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PREPARING TEACHERS TO WORK WITH ENGLISH LEARNERS: EXPLORING 

THE POTENTIAL FOR TRANSFORMATIVE LEARNING IN AN ONLINE 

ENGLISH AS A SECOND LANGUAGE FOR EDUCATORS COURSE 

by 

Stephanie E. Dewing 

B A., Teaching of Spanish, University of Illinois, 1998 

M.A., Teaching of English to Speakers of Other Languages, University of Illinois, 2003 



A thesis submitted to the 

Faculty of the Graduate School of the 

University of Colorado in partial fulfillment 

of the requirements for the degree of 

Doctor of Philosophy 

Educational Leadership and Innovation 

2012 



This thesis for the Doctor of Philosophy degree by 

Stephanie E. Dewing 

has been approved for the 

Educational Leadership and Innovation 

by 



Mark A. Clarke, Chair 

Alan Davis 

Maria A. Thomas -Ruzic 

Ruth Brancard 

Leslie Grant 



Date: April 11, 2012 



Dewing, Stephanie, E (Ph.D., Educational Leadership and Innovation) 

Preparing Teachers to Work with English Learners: Exploring the Potential for 
Transformative Learning in an Online English as a Second Language for Educators 
Course 

Thesis directed by Professor Mark A. Clarke 

ABSTRACT 

The number of English language learners (ELLs) in the United States school 
system is growing rapidly. Much of the responsibility for teaching ELLs lies with regular 
classroom teachers. However, little training is being provided to help them. From a 
sociocultural perspective and drawing on constructive-developmental theories of adult 
learning and development, this study explores the potential for transformative learning in 
a one semester online English as a Second Language for Educators course. It is argued 
that if a single course is all that is required of teachers, the goal must be "transformative 
learning," defined as a change in how a person knows rather than just what a person 
knows. The research questions were: 1) How did teacher candidates experience the online 
ESL for Educators course, and what roles did their background and prior experiences 
play? 2) What shifts in thinking took place in their understandings about working with 
culturally and linguistically diverse learners as a result of their participation in the 
course? 3) Which course activities, according to the teacher candidates, contributed to 
transformational shifts in thinking, and what role did the online learning environment 
play? Drawing from both qualitative and quantitative data, the study describes in depth 
the experiences of six adult learners (four females and two males ranging in age from late 
20's to early 50's), including their backgrounds, prior experiences, teaching context and 



in 



life circumstances during the time of the study, reported changes in understandings about 
linguistic diversity based on course participation, and epistemological tendencies (sources 
of authority, senses of self, ways of knowing). The data revealed evidence of shifts in 
thinking about the education of ELLs, which often emerged as a result of their 
participation in the field experiences. However, the results also suggest that this particular 
learning context was not ideal for fostering development and transformational learning. 
This study calls into question the reasonableness of expecting a one semester online 
course such as this to adequately prepare educators to work effectively with ELLs. Issues 
for course and program revision are explored. 

The form and content of this abstract are approved. I recommend its publication. 

Approved: Mark A. Clarke 



IV 



DEDICATION 

I dedicate this work to my husband Rob, my three children: Zach, Chloe and 
Olivia, and my parents: Steve and Michele. Rob is my best friend and without his 
continued support and encouragement, I would not have been able to do this work. Zach, 
Chloe, and Olivia inspire me every day to work hard, keep smiling, and enjoy every 
precious moment along the way. And finally, I could not have done any of this without 
my parents who have shown me the value of education throughout my life and have 
supported me in countless ways over the years. Without them, I would not be doing what 
I love to do today. 



ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 

I would like to thank the participants in the study for their time and effort. It is 
through their openness and willingness to share their stories with me that I was able to 
learn so much. They are the voices and true authors of this piece of work. I would also 
like to thank my advisor, Mark Clarke, and my committee members: Alan Davis, Mia 
Thomas-Ruzic, Leslie Grant, and Ruth Brancard for the countless hours they spent 
reading my drafts, providing me feedback, and helping me shape my identity as an 
educational researcher. Their voices, too, are represented in this dissertation. Finally, it is 
important to thank the members of the Lab of Learning and Activity, both past and 
present, who acknowledged my initial position as a legitimate peripheral participant and 
helped guide me slowly, but surely to becoming a fully contributing member of that 
community of practice. In my heart, I will always be a member of LoLA. 



VI 



TABLE OF CONTENTS 
CHAPTER 

1. INTRODUCTION 1 

Study Setting 3 

Purpose of the Study 4 

Contribution of Study 4 

Overview of Chapters 5 

2. THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK AND LITERATURE REVIEW 6 

Learning and Development Goals for Course 6 

Theoretical Framework 7 

Sociocultural Perspectives 7 

Constructive-developmental Theory 8 

Ways of Knowing and Transformational Learning 9 

Perry's Scheme of Intellectual Development 9 

Women's ways of knowing 10 

Drago-Severson and becoming adult learners 1 1 

Baxter Magolda and self-authorship 12 

The Role of Prior Experiences in Adult Learning and Development 13 

Kegan's Subject-Object Relationship 14 

Identity and Learning in Practice 14 

Field experiences 17 

The Role of Reflection in Adult Learning and Development 18 

Summary of Theoretical Framework and Literature Review 21 

3. METHODS 23 

Purpose of Study 23 

vii 



Research Questions 23 

Research Site 24 

Online ESL for Educators Course 24 

Research Participants 25 

The Teacher Candidates 25 

The Instructor 27 

The Researcher 28 

Data Collection 29 

Questionnaires and Surveys 29 

Interviews 31 

Activity Impact Questionnaires 33 

Online Discussions, Assignment Write-ups and Reflections 34 

Data Analysis 34 

4. SNAPSHOTS: GLIMPSES INTO RESULTS OF DATA 38 

Finding One 39 

Prior Understandings 39 

Prior knowledge 39 

Prior training 41 

Prior experience with other cultures 42 

Interest versus confidence in teaching ELLs 42 

Prior Attitudes and Beliefs 44 

Summary of Finding One 48 

Finding Two 48 

Change in Reported Knowledge of ELL Issues 48 

Change in Reported Level of Interest in Having ELLs in Class 50 

viii 



Change in Reported Level of Confidence to Teach ELLs 51 

Change in Teaching Practice: Kathy and Patricia 53 

Sharing new knowledge with other educators 54 

New Understandings about the Education of ELLs 56 

Importance of teaching both content and language 56 

Role of native language 56 

Change in Attitudes and Beliefs 57 

Change in LATS scores 57 

Change in feelings of empathy 59 

Change in awareness of local ELL population 61 

Summary of Change 62 

Finding Three 63 

Activity Impact Questionnaire 63 

Field assignments 64 

Journals and reflections 69 

Textbook: Sheltered content instruction 70 

ESL for Educators' Ability to Prepare TCs to Teach ELLs 71 

Summary of Course Activity Impact 71 

Finding Four 71 

Confidence with Online Learning 71 

Online Participation 74 

Discussions of the Online Learning Environment 78 

Reported Benefits of Online Learning 79 

Convenience, flexibility and pacing 79 

Online discussions 79 

Reported Challenges of Online Learning 80 

ix 



Pacing and routine 80 

Online discussions 81 

Reported Limitations of Online Learning 82 

Instructor feedback on discussion posts 82 

Conclusion of Results 83 

5. PORTRAITS: NARRATIVES OF STUDY PARTICIPANTS 86 

Sofia 87 

Background 87 

Teaching Experience 89 

Beliefs and Understandings about Linguistic Diversity 90 

Reported Changes as a Result of Course Participation 91 

Specific Reactions to Course Activities 92 

Transition between Figured Worlds 98 

Struggles with Subject-Object Shifts 99 

Challenging Assumptions and Sense of Self 100 

Ways of Knowing and Online Learning 103 

Summary of Sofia's Experiences 106 

Kathy 107 

Background 107 

Teaching Experience 109 

Beliefs and Understandings about Linguistic Diversity 110 

Reported Changes as a Result of Course Participation 112 

Specific Reactions to Course Activities 115 

Transition between Figured Worlds and Subject-Object Shifts 123 

Teacher as Source of Authority and Hints of Dualistic Thinking 123 

x 



Sense of Self 127 

Summary of Kathy's Experiences 129 

Jennifer 131 

Background 131 

Teaching Experience 134 

Beliefs and Understandings about Linguistic Diversity 136 

Reported Changes as a Result of Course Participation 137 

Specific Reactions to Course Activities 140 

Transitions and Quest for Balance 148 

Sense of Self 149 

Jennifer and Received Knowledge 150 

Summary of Jennifer's Experiences 156 

Patricia 157 

Background 157 

Teaching Experience 159 

Beliefs and Understandings about Linguistic Diversity 161 

Reported Changes as a Result of Course Participation 163 

Specific Reactions to Course Activities 168 

Sense of Self 175 

Patricia and Procedural Knowing 175 

Summary of Patricia's Experiences 179 

Steven 179 

Background 179 

Teaching Experience 181 

Beliefs and Understandings about Linguistic Diversity 182 

xi 



Reported Changes as a Result of Course Participation 184 

Specific Reactions to Course Activities 187 

The Quest for Answers in a Phase of Self- Exploration 193 

Steven and Subjective Knowledge 198 

Subjective Knowing and Online Learning 202 

Transitions, Change in Perspective, and Projecting Forward 205 

Summary of Steven's Experiences 207 

Erik 207 

Background 207 

Teaching Experience 211 

Beliefs and Understandings about Linguistic Diversity 214 

Reported Changes as a Result of Course Participation 216 

Specific Reactions to Course Activities 218 

Empathy and Perspective-Taking 225 

Sources of Authority and Self -Author ship 227 

Summary of Erik's Experiences 229 

Eva 231 

Background and Teaching Experience 231 

Course Experiences from the Instructor's Perspective 232 

Observations of Change in Teacher Candidates 233 

Thoughts on Transformational Learning 234 

Connected Teaching and the Online Learning Environment 234 

Overall Feelings about the ESL for Educators Course 238 

Summary of Portraits 238 

6. SUMMARY AND DISCUSSION 241 

xii 



Summary 241 

Promoting Adult Learning and Development 244 

Transitions 244 

Implications 246 

Ways of Knowing 247 

Implications 251 

Experience, Reflection and Meaning-Making 252 

Regan's subject-object continuum 252 

Implications 254 

Appropriate Supports and Challenges that Promote Development 255 

Baxter Magolda and promoting self-authorship 257 

Holding environments as contexts for growth 25 8 

Supports and challenges for women 259 

Promoting Development through Online Discussions 260 

Implications for Practice 264 

Implications for Course Design 264 

Analysis of course syllabus 264 

Informational learning through readings 265 

Importance of context 266 

Differentiation 267 

Creating a community of connection 268 

The potential for transformative learning 271 

Implemented Changes to Course Design and Next Steps 273 

Implications for Program Design 274 

Creating a community of connection 275 

Developmental focus throughout 275 

xiii 



Development of teacher educators 276 

A shared journey 277 

Limitations and Areas for Future Research 278 

Final Thoughts 279 

REFERENCES 282 

APPENDICES 287 

APPENDIX A. BACKGROUND QUESTIONNAIRE 287 

APPENDIX B. LANGUAGE ATTITUDES OF TEACHER SURVEY 290 

APPENDIX C. KNOWLEDGE OF ELL ISSUES SURVEY 291 

APPENDIX D. MID-SEMESTER ACTIVITY IMPACT QUESTIONNAIRE 293 

APPENDIX E. END-OF-SEMESTER QUESTIONNAIRE 295 

APPENDIX F. END-SEMESTER ACTIVITY IMPACT QUESTIONNAIRE 297 

APPENDIX G. SUBJECT-OBJECT INTERVIEW PROTOCOL 299 

APPENDIX H. PARTICIPANT CONSENT FORM 303 

APPENDIX I. ESL FOR EDUCATORS COURSE SYLLABUS 306 

APPENDIX J. GUIDELINES FOR COURSE FIELD ASSIGNMENTS 317 



XIV 



LIST OF TABLES 
Table 
3.1 Background Information as Reported by Participants 26 

4.1 Average (Mean) Responses to Knowledge of ELL Issues Survey by Topic 40 

4.2 Average (Mean) Responses to Knowledge of ELL Issues Survey by Participant . . .41 

4.3 LATS Scores at Beginning and End of Semester 45 

4.4 Average (Mean) Change to Responses on Knowledge of ELL Issues Survey by 
Participant 49 

4.5 Average (Mean) Change on Knowledge of ELL Issues Survey by Topic 50 

4.6 Change in LATS Scores from Beginning to End of Semester 57 

4.7 Average (Mean) LATS Scores for Group from Beginning to End of Semester 58 

4.8 Activities that Resulted in the Greatest Reported Impact 64 

5 . 1 Sofia's Descriptions of Herself 102 

5.2 Kathy's Descriptions of Herself 128 

5.3 Steven's Statements of Self-Exploration 194 

5 .4 Steven's Statements about Himself 196 

5.5 Summary of Portraits 239 



xv 



LIST OF FIGURES 

Figure 

4.1 Reported Knowledge of Other Cultures, Interest in Having ELLs in their 
Classrooms, and Confidence/ Ability to Teach ELLs at Beginning of Semester 43 

4.2 Change in Reported Interest in Having ELLs in Classroom: Beginning and End of 
Semester 51 

4.3 Reported Change in Confidence/ Ability to Teach ELLs: Beginning and End of 
Semester 52 

4.4 Reported Level of Confidence/Comfort Level with Online Learning: Beginning and 
End of Semester 73 

4.5 Online Participation: Number of Weeks Participated 75 

4.6 Online Participation: Number of Discussion Posts over 16 Weeks 76 

4.7 Average Views per Post (does not include views by researcher) 77 

4.8 Average Views of on Time Posts versus Late Posts (does not include views by 
researcher) 78 

4.9 Frequency of Interview Statements about Online Learning 79 



XVI 



LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS 

1 . ALP Alternative Licensure Program 

2. CLD Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Learner 

3. ELA English Language Acquisition 

4. ELD English Language Development 

5. ELL English Language Learner 

6. ESL English as a Second Language 

7. IT Instructional Technology 

8. LATS Language Attitudes of Teachers Scale 

9. LDE Linguistically Diverse Education 

10. SCI Sheltered Content Instruction 

11. SIOP Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol 

12. TC Teacher Candidate 

13. TELP Teacher Education Licensure Program 

14. TESOL Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages 



XVII 



CHAPTER 1 
INTRODUCTION 
Andres 1 arrived to the United States with his family a few months ago. He lived 
his previous nine years in Guadalajara, Mexico. His parents decided to bring him to the 
United States for a better life, but so far he does not understand what is so great about this 
place. He recently started attending third grade at his new elementary school. Not many 
people speak Spanish in his new school and he has only learned a few words in English 
from watching television in Mexico. He feels extremely out of place and does not know 
what to expect. Every day so far, his teacher has put him in a corner and has given him 
paper and crayons. How is he supposed to learn English, or anything for that matter, if he 
sits in the corner coloring while the rest of his classmates are engaged in learning 
activities? But what can he say? It is as though his teacher has no idea what to do with 
him. 

Ana completed her teacher education licensure program last year and is in her 
first year of teaching at a local elementary school. They talked about differentiating 
instruction in her teacher education courses, but she quickly realized that she had no idea 
what that would actually entail. There were 25 students in her class: four had special 
needs, three were gifted and talented, three were students with limited English 
proficiency, and the remaining 15 had varying levels of abilities and background 
knowledge. How was she supposed to adequately and effectively teach them all? In 
addition, the prescribed curriculum and additional constraints put on her by the school 
district were intense and came as a great surprise to her. Ana went into teaching because 



All names used in this document are pseudonyms 



she loved kids and wanted to help them learn. She began the year with great enthusiasm 
and energy, but that was quickly fading away only to be replaced by exhaustion and 
anxiety. She was overwhelmed. And on top of everything, a new kid named Andres just 
showed up who does not speak any English at all. Her licensure program did not include 
any training on how to work with linguistically diverse students. She has no idea what to 
do with him. Until she figures it out, she is going to have him sit in the corner and color 
so at least he is doing something. 

In order to help Andres, we must first help Ana. With the growing number of 
culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) learners in the United States school system, it 
is not a matter of if, but when teachers will be faced with how to help them learn. 
Between 1980 and 2009, the number of school-age children (ages 5-17) who spoke a 
language other than English at home increased from 4.7 to 11.2 million, which is an 
increase from 10 to 21 percent of the population in this age range (NCES, 2010). The 
children of immigrants constitute around 20% of the K-12 student population, which is 
projected to more than double within the next 20 years (AACTE, 2002). In Colorado, 
there are more than 100,000 students in grades K-12 who are labeled as English learners 
(CDE, 2010). This population has grown by 250% since 1995, while the overall K-12 
population in Colorado has grown by only 12%. English learners now comprise 10% of 
Colorado's K-12 population and the numbers continue to grow (CDE, 2010). 

More and more teachers are working with English language learners (ELLs), but 
little training is being provided to help them work effectively with that population of 



Culturally and linguistically diverse learners is used interchangeably with English learners, English 
language learners and linguistically diverse learners 



students (deJong & Harper, 2005). In a report from the National Center for Education 
Statistics (2002), only 12.5% of teachers reported having received more than eight hours 
of professional development specifically related to English language learners (ELLs). As 
a result, in these times of rapidly changing demographics, preparing teachers for diverse 
classrooms is more than just a challenge; it is a duty (Milner, 2010). 

That duty of providing pre-service teachers with the rigorous preparation 
necessary to meet the modern demands of education is the responsibility of teacher 
education programs (Darling-Hammond, 2010; Darling-Hammond, Chung, & Frelow, 
2002). When it comes to serving ELLs, the most common model is 'pull-out,' which 
leaves the majority of the responsibility of educating ELLs to grade-level mainstream 
teachers (Karathanos, 2010). As teacher educators, then, it is our responsibility to help 
prepare all teachers to work effectively with their ELLs; not just the English language 
development (ELD) teachers. 

Study Setting 
The linguistically diverse education (LDE) program at a mid-size university in the 
mountain-west region of the United States has one course that is specifically designed to 
do just that. It is called English as a Second Language (ESL) for Educators and is geared 
towards pre-service and in-service elementary and secondary teachers. The course is 
offered both on campus and online every semester (fall, spring and summer). This study 
focused on the online version. ESL for Educators is required at the graduate level and is 
an elective at the undergraduate level, which means that not all teacher candidates (TCs) 
who earn their teaching credentials from this university will have received training on 



how to work effectively with linguistically diverse learners. For those that do, however, 
the program strives to make the course as effective as possible. 

Purpose of the Study 
The general purpose of this study was to explore the potential for transformative 
learning (a change in not just what a person knows, but how a person knows) in the 
online ESL for Educators course over the course of one semester. In addition, I sought to 
learn how the six teacher candidates that participated in the study experienced the course 
and what changes took place in their thinking about linguistically diverse education as a 
result of their participation in the course. 

Through the collection of both quantitative (questionnaires and surveys) and 
qualitative (open-ended questions on questionnaires, interviews and written reflections) 
data, I explored the answers to those questions, paying careful attention to the course 
activities that appeared to contribute most to their shifts in thinking. The results of the 
study suggest that in fact, each participant made sense of their experiences differently. 
The way in which they made sense of those experiences were influenced by their 
sociocultural histories, life circumstances, and epistemological tendencies, such as 
sources of authority, senses of self and meaning-making systems, or ways of knowing. 

Contribution of Study 
An in-depth study of this nature offers insights into the effectiveness and 
limitations of a single semester, online, teacher education course that prepare educators to 
work with English language learners. The results lend themselves to implications for 
course design and program design. For example, incorporating a developmental focus 



throughout the course and program will better assist teacher educators to meet the teacher 
candidates where they are and provide appropriate supports and challenges to help them 
get to where they can be (Drago-Severson, 2004). 

Overview of Chapters 
In Chapter 2 I lay the foundation of the study by introducing my theoretical 
framework and literature review, which I approach from a sociocultural perspective. I 
describe the constructive-developmental theories of adult learning and development from 
which I draw, address concepts of identity, and acknowledge the roles of experience and 
reflection. Chapter 3 describes the methods I used in the study, including the research 
questions, site and participants, as well as the methods of data collection and analysis. In 
Chapter 4 I present the findings and interpretations of the study, aligned with my research 
questions, for the six focal participants as a group. Chapter 5 takes an in-depth look at 
each participant as well as the instructor, and presents information about their 
backgrounds, experiences, beliefs and understandings about linguistic diversity, reported 
changes as a result of their course participation, and specific reactions to course activities. 
In addition, I discuss evidence of epistemological tendencies, such as sources of 
authority, senses of self, and ways of knowing. Finally, in Chapter 6 I present an 
overview of the study and discuss the results, offering insights and implications for 
course and program design, and offering areas for future research. 



CHAPTER 2 
THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK AND LITERATURE REVIEW 

Learning and Development Goals for Course 
To ground this study in theory and related literature, it is important to first provide 
a brief introduction to the goals of the course itself. Based on my own experiences of the 
course, I have outlined the overarching goals of ESL for Educators, which are to: (a) 
increase the teacher candidates' level of knowledge about culturally and linguistically 
diverse teaching and learning, (b) help teacher candidates gain a sense of efficacy to 
effectively work with culturally and linguistically diverse learners, (c) provide 
opportunities for TCs to broaden their perspective about the way they know, understand 
and make sense of culturally and linguistically diverse education, and (d) make a positive 
impact on the ELLs in the TCs current or future classrooms. It is important to note that 
these goals are not represented in the syllabus. The course goals and objectives as 
outlined in the course syllabus (see Appendix I) are based more on informational 
learning. Suggestions for the revision of the course syllabus to reflect the unwritten goals 
of the course are discussed in chapter 6. 

One of the development goals for ESL for Educators, which is not found in the 
syllabus, but is indicated by the course instructor, is to help the teacher candidates take on 
new perspectives, specifically the perspectives of the culturally and linguistically diverse 
learners in their current and/or future classrooms. The ability to take on another's 
perspective is an indication of a more advanced level of development (Drago-Severson, 
2004; Kegan, 1982). For the TCs who do not already demonstrate that developmental 
ability, the course is designed to create opportunities for them to get there by challenging 

6 



and supporting them through field assignments, online discussions, and reflections, which 
are all key components of the online course. 

Theoretical Framework 
I approach this study from a sociocultural perspective (Lantolf, 1993; Vygotsky, 
1978; Wenger, 1998) and draw on constructive-developmental theories of adult learning 
and development (Baxter-Magolda, 2001; Belenky, Clinchy, Goldberger, & Tarule, 1986; 
Drago-Severson, 2004; Kegan, 1982, 1994, 2000; Mezirow, 1997, 1990, 2000). In this 
paper I define learning in general as "change over time through engagement in activity" 
(Clarke, 2007, p. 22), but I will discuss two types of learning specifically: informational 
learning and transformational learning (Kegan, 1982, 1994, 2000; Mezirow, 1997, 1990, 
2000). I will use the terms transformational learning and transformative learning 
interchangeably. To clarify briefly, informational learning "adds to what a person knows 
whereas transformational learning changes how a person knows" (Drago-Severson, 2004, 
p. 19). 

Sociocultural Perspectives 

To better understand the teacher candidates' learning, experiences and practice, it 
is important to consider the sociocultural histories of the TCs, the activities in which they 
engage, the contexts in which they learn and work, and the previous experiences from 
which they draw (Johnson, 1994; Johnson & Golombek, 2003; Lantolf, 1993; Teague, 
2010; Vygotsky, 1978). In this study I explored the process involved in the TCs' shifts in 
thinking and how specific aspects of the course contributed to those shifts in thinking 
and/or development of new understandings. 



Vygotsky (1978) viewed development at two levels: actual development, or what 
one can do independently, and potential development, or what one is able to do with 
more "expert" assistance. The difference between these two developmental levels 
constitutes the zone of proximal development (ZPD). Basically, "children grow into the 
intellectual life of those around them" (Vygotsky, 1978, p. 88). I view this notion of 
"growing" as applicable to adult learners as well, such as those who participated in this 
study. The course attempted to provide guidance within the teacher candidates' ZPD by 
creating opportunities for them to engage with more knowledgeable perspectives, such as 
those provided by the instructor, their readings, their discussions with peers, their 
engagement in course activities, and their reflection of those experiences (Ball, 2000; 
Teague, 2010). 

It is important to note that the TCs were not passive recipients of information, but 
rather active participants in the process. By engaging with new ideas and perspectives, 
the goal was for the teacher candidates to be better able to challenge pre-existing 
assumptions, take on new or broader perspectives, and develop new understandings about 
ELLs and the education of ELLs. I approached all data collection and analysis through a 
sociocultural lens with those goals in mind. 

Constructive-developmental Theory 

The theoretical framework for this study was based in part on the foundations of 
constructive-developmental theories of adult learning and development. Constructive- 
developmental theory draws on the notions of constructivism, "the idea that people or 
systems constitute or construct reality; and developmentalism, the idea that people or 

organic systems evolve through qualitatively different eras of increasing complexity 

8 



according to regular principles of stability and change" (Kegan, 1994, p. 199). 
Constructive-developmental theory, then, looks at the transformation over time of how 
we construct meaning. Basically, the way we construct our meaning will determine how 
we see the world around us and therefore, how we operate within it. 

Ways of Knowing and Transformational Learning 

At the heart of transformation is a way of knowing (Kegan, 2000). A way of 
knowing can also be referred to as an epistemology, a level of development (Drago- 
Severson, 2004), or a frame of reference (Mezirow, 1997). A way of knowing refers to 
how we view the world around us and how we make sense of our experiences in that 
world. As people develop, their ways of knowing adapt, or transform, to align with their 
new worldview. 

Transformational learning "attends to the deliberate efforts and designs that 
support changes in the learner's form of knowing" (Kegan, 2000, p. 48). A key 
component of transformative learning is "epistemological change (change in how we 
make meaning), not just change in behavioral repertoire or quantity of knowledge" (E. 
W. Taylor, 2008, p. 7). Therefore, since "genuinely transformational learning is always to 
some extent an epistemological change" (Kegan, 2000, p. 48), I looked for evidence of 
epistemological change in the data I collected from the study participants. 

Perry's Scheme of Intellectual Development. Perry (1970, 1981) conducted 
extensive studies over a span of fifteen years of college-aged men at Harvard in an 
attempt to learn about their cognitive processes and intellectual development. He sought 
to understand how they made sense of their experiences, or in other words, their ways of 



knowing. Based on what he learned, Perry proposed that college students pass through 
predictable, sequential stages of epistemological development. He posited that the 
students move from viewing "truth" in terms of right and wrong (dualism) to being able 
to recognize multiple, conflicting versions of "truth," which represent legitimate 
alternatives (multiplicity, relativism, commitment). 

Perry's scheme of intellectual development was helpful to me in my analysis of 
the ways in which people constructed knowledge as well as what they took as their 
sources of authority. In some cases, I found evidence of dualistic thinking. However, I 
also found evidence of more advanced cognitive development as demonstrated by 
participants' abilities to take on the multiple perspectives of others. 

Women 's ways of knowing. As a follow-up to Perry's work, Belenky, Clinchy, 

Goldberger, and Tarule (1986) conducted a study with a similar purpose, but instead of 

focusing on men, they focused on women. The research team interviewed 135 women of 

widely different ages, life circumstances, and backgrounds in an attempt to understand 

how they made sense of their experiences. Belenky and colleagues proposed five 

epistemological perspectives from which women know and view the world: silent 

knowledge, received knowledge, subjective knowledge, procedural knowledge, and/or 

constructed knowledge. Briefly, silent knowers exhibit total dependence on external 

authority. In essence, they experience themselves as mindless and voiceless. Received 

knowers view themselves as capable of receiving and reproducing knowledge from 

external authorities but not capable of creating knowledge on their own. Subjective 

knowers conceive of truth and knowledge as personal, private, subjectively-known or 

intuited. Procedural knowers rely on objective procedures for obtaining and 

10 



communicating knowledge. Finally, constructed knowers view all knowledge as 
contextual and value both subjective and objective strategies for knowing, and see 
themselves as creators of knowledge. 

Four out of the six participants in this study were women and therefore, the 
women's ways of knowing framework outlined by Belenky and her co-researchers (1986) 
was useful in helping me better understand the women participants in my study and how 
they made sense of their experiences. It is important to note that the proposed ways of 
knowing are frameworks for meaning-making that evolve and change; not personality 
types that are relatively permanent. 

Drago-Severson and becoming adult learners. Drawing from Perry's (1970, 
1981), Belenky et al.'s (1986) and Kegan's (1982, 1994) frameworks for epistemological 
development, Drago-Severson (2004) and her research team conducted a study of 41 
adult learners enrolled in a 14-month adult basic education course across three different 
sites: a community college site, a family literacy site and a workplace site. In her study, 
Drago-Severson focused on three of Kegan's ways of constructing reality, or ways of 
knowing, found to be most prevalent in adulthood: instrumental, socializing, and self- 
authoring ways of knowing. Evidence was found to support transformational learning, as 
50% of course participants demonstrated a developmental change in their way of 
knowing (e.g. from instrumental to socializing; from socializing to self-authoring) after 
the 14-month course as determined by the research team. 

The research team found it remarkable that half of the study participants 
experienced transformational learning, or "a qualitative shift in one's understanding of 

11 



oneself, the world, and the relationship between the two" in such a short time (Drago- 
Severson, 2004, p. 22). This was a phenomenon that I explored with the participants in 
the current study. By examining the ways in which the diverse adult learners enrolled in 
the course made sense of their experiences I was able to find evidence of transformational 
shifts in thinking among some participants. 

Baxter Magolda and self -author ship. Also building on the work of Kegan (1982, 
1994) and Belenky et al. (1986), Baxter Magolda (2001) began a longitudinal study of 
101 first- year college students to better understand their intellectual development. 
However, she realized she had focused too narrowly on intellectual development and 
expanded the focus of the study to include participants' sense of their identity and their 
relationships with others. The study described here focuses on the 39 participants that 
remained in the study throughout their twenties. 

Baxter Magolda (2001) posited that an important part of becoming the author of 
one's life is the transition from external to internal self -definition. She argues that internal 
self -definition plays a central role in self-authorship and that managing external influence 
rather than being controlled by it is the essence of self-authorship. Making that shift and 
becoming the author of one's life, however, is a developmental process. Baxter Magolda 
identified four ways of knowing as part of that process: absolute knowing, transitional 
knowing, independent knowing, and contextual knowing. Similar to other descriptions of 
ways of knowing (Belenky, et al., 1986; Drago-Severson, 2004; Kegan, 1982, 1994; 
Perry, 1970, 1981), these levels or stages of development begin with a need to know what 
the authorities think (dualistic view of knowledge); then transition to an awareness that 

12 



authorities do not have all the answers, to an acknowledgement that most knowledge is 
uncertain; and finally, to holding the perspective that knowledge is relative to context. 

The journey toward self- authorship as outlined by Baxter Magolda (2001) 
revealed how three dimensions of development (epistemological, intrapersonal and 
interpersonal dimensions) intertwine to contribute to self- authorship. Stemming from 
those three dimensions, Baxter Magolda proposed three driving questions for people in 
their twenties: 'How do I know?' 'Who am I?' and 'What relationships do I want with 
others?' Since half of my study participants were in their twenties, Baxter Magolda's 
framework was helpful for me in analyzing the interview data for those three participants. 
It is important to note, however, that I also found evidence of similar driving questions 
for other participants who were not in their twenties, but due to life circumstances were in 
a sense "starting over." 

The Role of Prior Experiences in Adult Learning and Development 

As I looked for evidence of development along the three dimensions of 

epistemology, identity, and relationships, I paid close attention to the role of the 

participants' prior experiences. Prior experiences play a large role in adult learning and 

development (Dewey, 1938; Knowles, 1980; Knowles, Holton, & Swanson, 1998; 

Mezirow, 1997). "Experience is the adult learner's living textbook" (Lindeman, 1961, p. 

10). Adults have acquired a coherent body of experience, or frames of reference, that 

define their life world. Similar to ways of knowing, frames of reference are the structures 

of assumptions and expectations through which we understand our experiences 

(Mezirow, 1997). They frame an individual's points of view and influence their thinking, 

beliefs, and ultimately their actions (E. W. Taylor, 2008). Therefore, to better understand 

13 



teacher learning and development, it is necessary to consider the previous experiences 
from which teachers draw (Teague, 2010) and how they make sense of those experiences. 

Kegan's Subject-Object Relationship 

Forming the core of an epistemology, or way of knowing, is the subject-object 
relationship (Kegan, 2000, p. 53). The subject-object relationship is a principle of mental 
organization (Kegan, 1994; Lahey, Souvaine, Kegan, Goodman, & Felix, 1988). 
"'Object' refers to those elements of our knowing or organizing that we can reflect on, 
handle, look at, be responsible for, relate to each other, take control of, internalize, 
assimilate, or otherwise operate upon," (Kegan, 1994, p. 32) whereas "'subject' refers to 
those elements of our knowing or organizing that we are identified with, tied to, fused 
with, or embedded in" (Kegan, 1994, p. 32). "We have object; we are subject. We cannot 
be responsible for, in control of, or reflect upon that which is subject" (Kegan, 1994, p. 
32). What we take as subject and what we take as object can change and these shifts from 
subject to object (having control over something rather than it having control over us) is 
the most powerful way to conceptualize the growth of the mind (Kegan, 1994). This 
subject-object relationship was a lens through which I viewed and analyzed the data. 

Identity and Learning in Practice 

Inextricably linked with a person's way of knowing is a person's identity. I define 

identity in this study as "a learner's socially negotiated sense of self in relationship to his 

or her environment" (Brancard, 2008, p. 36). Identity plays a large role in the process of 

learning, epistemological change and practice. In fact, issues of identity are inseparable 

from issues of practice (Wenger, 1998). They constitute a way of being in the world. 

Building an identity involves negotiating the meanings of our experiences, which results 

14 



from our membership and participation in social communities (Wenger, 1998). "Because 
learning transforms who we are and what we can do, it is an experience of identity" 
(Wenger, 1998, p. 215). 

Brancard (2008) provides an in-depth look at the negotiation of identities for 27 
college students enrolled in a first-semester community college developmental education 
course. In this course they worked to improve their reading and writing of academic 
English and explored their goals for the future. Three-quarters of the students in the study 
were recent high school graduates and more than half of them were born outside of the 
U.S., but many had completed some schooling in the U.S. 

Through interviews, classroom observations, and analysis of written data, 
Brancard (2008) found evidence of students' negotiations of their identities. The students 
described changes in the way they saw themselves as college students, as readers, and as 
writers. Brancard found strong connections between shifts in students' perceptions of 
themselves as college students and the activities in which they engaged during their first 
year of college. In addition to their engagement in the course activities, the classroom 
environment and the community college environment influenced the way they made 
sense of their experiences. 

Brancard's work helped me to frame the current study and highlighted the 
importance of identity and how the negotiation of identity is linked with engagement in 
activity to facilitate learning, growth and development. The results of Brancard's study 
support the argument that experiences of identity are not just about acquiring information 
and skills, but more importantly about the process of becoming who we are and who we 

15 



want to be. Information by itself, removed from participation, is not knowledge. What 
makes information knowledge, and empowering at that, is the way in which that 
information can be integrated within an identity of participation (Wenger, 1998, p. 220). 

Learning contexts can offer a place where new ways of knowing can be realized 
(Wenger, 1998). With that in mind, the teacher candidates' participation in the online 
learning community had the potential to be a transformative practice and "an ideal 
context for developing new understandings" (Wenger, 1998, p. 215). Based on the data, I 
would infer that the online learning context for this particular group during this particular 
semester was a suitable context for the development of new understandings for some 
people, but not for others. I will discuss which aspects of the course lent themselves more 
to the development of new understandings and for whom in more detail in Chapters 4 and 
5. 

Learning "belongs to the realm of experience and practice. It follows the 

negotiation of meaning; it moves on its own terms. It slips through the cracks; it creates 

its own cracks. Learning happens, design or no design" (Wenger, 1998, p. 225). Learning 

gains its significance in the kind of person we become (Wenger, 1998). It changes our 

ability to participate, to belong, and to negotiate meaning. This ability is configured 

through our participation in social communities and practice and ultimately shapes our 

identities (Wenger, 1998). The learning that takes place in the online ESL for Educators 

course has the potential to transform the way teacher candidates think about culturally 

and linguistically diverse education and learners. By design, the course strives to provide 

TCs with opportunities to explore who they are, who they are not, and who they could 

become. 

16 



Field experiences. One way to accomplish that goal was through the field 
assignments and the reflections of those experiences. There were three field assignments 
built into the course (see Appendix J for more detailed descriptions of assignments). The 
first involved watching a panel discussion of ESL directors from four local school 
districts. The second was a cultural field experience, and the third was an ESL class 
observation and interview of the teacher. The cultural field experience asked the 
prospective teachers to push themselves outside of their comfort zones and attend an 
event or language class conducted in a language they did not speak. The purpose was to 
instill a sense of empathy and give them an opportunity to walk in the shoes of their 
ELLs and see the world through their eyes, even if it is just for a moment. An activity 
such as this provides the TCs with an opportunity to be able to take on a new or 
additional perspective. 

One of the reasons for incorporating the cultural field experience into the course 
was that research has shown that cross-cultural experiences are necessary if pre-service 
teachers are to be able to transform and critically construct meaningful educational 
experiences for culturally and linguistically diverse students (Ference & Bell, 2004; Gay, 
2002; Giroux, 1988; Nieto, 2000). Since many programs are unable to provide 
prospective teachers with a cross-cultural experience outside of the United States, 
universities provide short-term cross-cultural experiences for pre-service teachers 
(Bradfield-Kreider, 1999; Wiest, 1998; Willard-Holt, 2001). The cultural field 
assignment was this program's version of that short-term cross-cultural experience. 

In addition to cross-cultural field experiences, many face-to-face classes similar to 

ESL for Educators incorporate a 'language shock' (Karathanos, 2010) or 'language 

17 



sensitivity' (Dong, 2004) exercise into a class session. Typically that involves either an 
instructor or a guest lecturer delivering a short presentation in a language that the 
majority of the TCs in the class do not speak. In some cases they may ask the TCs to 
produce something in the unfamiliar language (e.g. take a test, complete an activity, etc.). 
The purpose is similar to the cross-cultural experience: to show the teacher candidates 
what it is like to be in a classroom without understanding the language of instruction and 
hopefully instill a sense of empathy for their future ELLs. 

The current study focused on the online version of the course, making a 'language 
shock' activity more difficult. Therefore, the requirement was for each TC enrolled in the 
online course to find his or her own local event, activity, or language class to attend. This 
type of experience may have actually been more of a "shock" because the TCs were on 
their own and did not have the support of their classroom, classmates or instructor. In 
fact, several TCs wrote about feeling "out of place," "left out," and "intimidated" by the 
experience. 

Based on written reflections, this language experience appeared to have an impact 
on many of the teacher candidates' thinking and ways of knowing, but not on others'. I 
will report on the impact of this particular course activity, and others, on the study 
participants and their thinking about ELLs and the education of ELLs in Chapters four 
and five. 

The Role of Reflection in Adult Learning and Development 

In addition to field assignments, readings, and online discussions, a critical 
component of ESL for Educators online was written reflections on their experiences in 

18 



the field assignments and in the course overall. Reflection is an activity, along with 
experience, that contributes to and constitutes change, growth and development. 
Reflection is the process by which we make sense of the world in which we live and 
experience life. Reflection is fundamental to learning and developing - "without it, we 
would simply be bombarded by random experiences and unable to make sense of any of 
them" (Merriam & Clark, 2006, p. 39). 

We all have our own theories; our own ways of understanding the world. Our 
perspectives on learning make a difference in who we are and what we do. Therefore, 
reflecting upon our perspectives on learning is crucial. We need to understand what our 
assumptions are with respect to the nature of learning itself to better understand that 
which informs what we do (Wenger, 1998). The data I collected assisted in the process of 
discovering what the TCs' assumptions were and how those assumptions played a role in 
the TCs' ways of making sense of and understanding themselves and the world around 
them. 

This type of critical reflection is a developmental process that is rooted in 
experience (E. W. Taylor, 2008). Critical reflection is the kind of thinking that challenges 
notions of prior learning (VanHalen-Faber, 1997). Thoughtful questioning may put to the 
test a person's beliefs, expectations or goals. Such reflective experiences at the pre- 
service level in teacher education are put in place in order to elicit changes in established 
beliefs held by the prospective teachers, which may lead to change in the way they think 
about teaching and learning over time. 



19 



Reflection is a meaning-making process that moves a learner from one experience 
to the next with deeper understanding of its relationships with and connections to other 
experiences and ideas. Dewey (1938) argues that reflection needs to happen in interaction 
with others (in a community), and requires attitudes that value the personal and 
intellectual growth of oneself and others (Merriam & Clark, 2006). For this very reason 
the online course required participation in online weekly discussions in hopes of 
establishing a greater sense of community. Through this learning community the adult 
learners were given an opportunity to share their thoughts, feelings and experiences and 
reflect upon them with each other. In addition to journal entries and written reflections, it 
was during the weekly discussions that instructors could potentially "see" a lot of 
learning take place. 

In my analysis I attempted to learn why some of the adult learners enrolled in the 
course appeared to see the online discussions as valuable and others did not. The 
differing reactions were based on a multitude of factors. For example, the discussion 
prompts appeared to influence the potential for in-depth discussion and exploration of a 
topic. In addition, a person's level of participation may have influenced what they got out 
of the discussions. And finally, a person's way of knowing also appeared to influence 
their reactions to the online discussions and the online learning environment in general. 
In this study of a particular group of teacher candidates during a particular semester, I did 
not find evidence of a true community of learners. I will discuss the implications of the 
online environment in further detail in Chapters 4, 5, and 6. 

Becoming critically reflective of one's own assumptions is the key to 

transforming one's taken-for-granted frame of reference, an indispensable dimension of 

20 



learning and adapting to change (Mezirow, 1997). ESL for Educators was designed so 
that the teacher candidates were required to self-reflect often because self-reflection is 
one way to achieve significant personal transformations (Mezirow, 1997). Achieving 
significant personal and professional transformations is what the course strives to 
accomplish. For detailed descriptions of each individual's experiences and whether or not 
they showed evidence of transformational experiences, see Chapter 5. 

Summary of Theoretical Framework and Literature Review 
In sum, the adult learners enrolled in ESL for Educators, along with the instructor 
and researcher, were complex beings with multiple and unique roles, responsibilities, 
experiences, beliefs, values, identities, and goals that were constantly changing and 
evolving. Diversity came in many different forms: gender, age, culture, background, 
socio-cultural histories and experiences, and a more subtle form of diversity: level of 
development, or way of knowing (Drago-Severson, 2004). People's diverse ways of 
knowing shaped the ways in which the participants understood their experiences both in 
the course and in life. Everyone made sense of his or her experiences differently; 
therefore, it was important to consider the adult learners' development as part of the 
research study. Knowing who the learners were and where they were coming from, along 
with the multiple demands that were placed upon them at the time of the study, was 
important because of how those demands influenced the ways in which they experienced 
the online ESL for Educators course and their potential for transformational learning 
(Kegan, 1994). 



21 



The conceptual framework and literature review helped to frame my study in an 
attempt to understand how the adult learners in the online ESL for Educators course made 
sense of their experiences, their understanding of themselves, and their development as 
learners and current or future teachers of ELLs over the course of the semester. In 
Chapter 3 I describe my research method, which includes the research questions that 
guided the study, the research site and participants, and methods of data collection and 
analysis. 



22 



CHAPTER 3 
METHODS 

Purpose of Study 
Based on prior course assessments, the linguistically diverse education (LDE) 
program appeared to achieve its goal of facilitating informational learning for the 
majority of teacher candidates enrolled in the course. However, it was unclear how often 
transformational learning occurred, if at all. Those who had taught the course, myself 
included, reported a sense that the potential existed for transformational learning to occur 
as a result of participation in the course, but there was no empirical evidence to support 
those claims. 

The purpose of this study was to explore the potential for transformational 
learning, determine what kind of change was reasonable to expect in a group of TCs 
during a one semester course, and which course activities contributed most to shifts in 
thinking. Taking the individual participants' sociocultural histories and contexts into 
consideration, I sought to discover how each of the participants experienced the course, 
what their beliefs and understandings were about linguistic diversity at the beginning of 
the course, any change that took place in their thinking as a result of their course 
participation, and which course activities appeared to have the greatest impact on their 
thinking, as well as the ability to foster transformational learning. 

Research Questions 

The research questions which guided this study addressed three main areas: 

teacher candidates' perceptions of their experience in the online ESL for Educators 

course, their beliefs about working with culturally and linguistically diverse learners, and 

23 



the changes that took place as a result of their participation in the course. The roles of 
background, prior experience, teaching context, and the online learning environment 
were considered as well. The specific research questions were: 

1 . How do different teacher candidates experience the online ESL for Educators 
course? 

a. What roles do the background and prior experiences of the TCs play? 

2. What changes, or shifts in thinking, take place in the understandings and/or 
beliefs of teacher candidates about working with culturally and linguistically 
diverse learners as a result of their participation in the course? 

3. Which course activities, educational practices and processes, according to the 
TCs, contribute to transformational shifts in thinking? 

a. What role does the online learning environment play? 

Research Site 
Online ESL for Educators Course 

The site for this study is the online ESL for Educators course, which is part of a 
teacher education program at a mid-sized university. The fall 201 1 university enrollment 
was 10,183 students with 1,805 enrolled in at least one online course. This ESL for 
Educators course is offered every semester both on campus and online. The TCs enrolled 
in the online course are graduate students, some of whom are in the post-baccalaureate 
strand of the Teacher Education and Licensure Program (TELP: pre-service), and some 
of whom are in the Alternative Licensure Program (ALP: in-service, but without teaching 
credentials). All of the participants in the study were part of the Alternative Licensure 

24 



Program, but not all of them were teaching during the semester of the study. This course 
is typically taken early in the course sequence, usually in the first or second semester of 
the program. 

The ESL for Educators course is conducted using Blackboard and meets entirely 
online. There are no face-to-face meetings. The option of having a face-to-face meeting is 
at the discretion of the instructor. No face-to-face meetings occurred during the semester 
of data collection. Online course activities included weekly readings (two books and 
several supplemental readings posted on Blackboard), weekly participation in online 
threaded discussions (requirements included one response to the discussion prompt and 
responses to at least two classmates), three journal entries (one at the beginning, one in 
the middle, and one at the end of the course), three field assignments (see Appendix J for 
descriptions), one exam, one scholarly research paper, and a final reflection paper. 

I have taught the course twice (fall 2010 and spring 201 1). The online instructor 
taught the course once (summer 201 1) prior to the semester of data collection (fall 201 1). 
I was granted full access to the online course as a Teaching Assistant during the semester 
of the study (fall 2011). 

Research Participants 
The Teacher Candidates 

Of the nine teacher candidates enrolled in the course, six agreed to participate in 
the study, four females and two males (see table 3.1). Their ages ranged from 26-50, 
three in their late 20's, one in his upper 30's, and two in their early 50's. All participants 
were enrolled in the Alternative Licensure Program (ALP) during the time of the study in 

25 



a secondary content area: three in math, one in science, one in social studies, and one 
undeclared. All of the participants were from the United States and spoke English as their 
first language. However, five of the six had some knowledge of a language other than 
English, and three had lived abroad at various points in their lives. Two of the teacher 
candidates were teaching, one was substitute teaching, and three were not in schools 
during the semester of the study. See table 3.1 for more information about each of the 
participants. 

Table 3.1 Background Information as Reported by Participants 





SOFIA 


KATHY 


JENNIFER 


PATRICIA 


STEVEN 


ERIK 


Age range 


26-30 


46-50 


46-50 


26-30 


26-30 


36-40 


Content Area 


Math 


Math 


Math 


Science 


? 


Social 
Studies 


Currently 
teaching/ 
subbing 


No 


Yes: middle 
school math 
and drama 


Yes: subbing 

secondary 

math and 

science 


Yes: high 
school 
science 


No 


No 


Teaching 
Experience 
(1= novice; 
5=veteran) 


1 


3 


2 


2.5 


3 


4.5 


Other 
languages 

and 

proficiency 

(1= low; 

5=high) 


Spanish (3) 


Spanish (2); 
Korean (1) 


German (1); 
Spanish (1) 


None 
reported 


Spanish (3); 
Thai (3) 


Japanese (4); 
Chinese (2); 
German (1) 


Experience 

with/ 

Knowledge of 

other 

cultures 

(l=low; 

5=high) 


3 


5 


2 


3 


4 


4 


Interest in 
having ELLs 

in class 

(0=not 
interested; 

5=very 
interested) 


4 


5 


3 


4 


5 


5 


Confidence/ 

ability in 

teaching 

ELLs (l=low; 

5=high) 


1 


2 


1 


2 


5 


5 



26 



Table 3.1 Cont'd 





SOFIA 


KATHY 


JENNIFER 


PATRICIA 


STEVEN 


ERIK 


Preparation 
of other 

coursework 
to teach 

ELLs (0=no 

preparation; 
5=high 

preparation) 














2 





Confidence 

in online 

learning 

(l=not 

confident; 

5=very 
confident) 


4 


5 


1 


5 


1 


1 



In a condensed timeline, the statistics on students enrolled in ESL for Educators 
from fall 2007 to spring 2012 reported that 68.4% have been female and 30.8% male. 
77.4% reported being White and 21.8% report being Asian, Black, Hispanic, American 
Indian, Alaskan Native, Pacific Islander, or unknown. The average age was reported to be 
31.025. 

The Instructor 

Eva, the instructor, was teaching the ESL for Educators course for the second 
time during the semester of data collection. The prior semester she taught took place 
during the summer session, which was a condensed version of the layout for the 16- week, 
full semester version of the course. Eva had been working as a full-time instructor at the 
same university in which the study took place for less than a year, but had extensive 
experience as an educator prior to joining this university. For a more detailed description 
of Eva, her background, teaching experience, and course experiences, see Chapter 5: 
Portraits. 



27 



The Researcher 

I am a married mother of three young children in my mid-thirties. I grew up in a 
predominantly white, mid-sized suburb of Chicago and lived in the same house, in the 
same town until I left for college. Attending the university was my first real exposure to 
diversity. I studied abroad in Spain during my sophomore year, which opened my eyes to 
the larger world of which I was a small part. Upon earning my B.A. in the teaching of 
secondary Spanish, I moved to Quito, Ecuador. I lived there for two years and taught 
adult ESL at a local university and ninth grade English and social studies at a private, 
bilingual, K-12 school. It was at that point in my life when I realized that I wanted to 
work with English language learners. 

When I returned to the U.S. from Ecuador, I taught high school Spanish for one 
year, but then went back to school to earn my M.A. TESOL (teaching English to speakers 
of other languages). While I was working on my M.A., I taught English for the 
university's English language institute. That experience confirmed my interest in working 
with English learners. 

After I earned my M.A., I decided to move to Colorado, a place I always enjoyed 
visiting as a child. I began working at a local university in a brand new ESL teacher 
education program. I was one of the first employees of the grant-funded program and was 
excited to be a part of it. I have been involved in one way or another with this newly- 
named culturally and linguistically diverse education program for the last nine years. I 
have seen it change and evolve over the years, similar to my own identity. Through my 
work at this university, I continue to learn about our local population of ELLs and 

continue to strive to do whatever I can to help them succeed. That is part of the reason I 

28 



am now involved in teacher training: to try and reach as many teachers as possible in the 
hopes of reaching as many students as possible. That is how this study came to be. 

Since the ESL for Educators course may be the only course some of our local 
mainstream and content area teachers receive, I believe in its importance, I believe in 
making it as effective as possible, and I am convinced of its potential. I decided to take a 
step back from teaching the course to examine what was going on and how the teachers 
enrolled in the course made sense of their course experiences. I wanted to learn which 
aspects of the course were working and which ones needed to be improved upon. 

This dissertation is just the beginning of what I foresee to be a long career asking 
similar questions. Ultimately, my interests lie with the English learners themselves and 
helping prepare the teachers to work with them is the first step in that process. 

Data Collection 
Questionnaires and Surveys 

In order to answer the question of how the teacher candidates experienced this 
course, it was important to find out who the adult learners were, including their 
backgrounds and experiences. "Experience is always a starting point of an educational 
process" (Knowles, et al., 1998, p. 94) and connecting new learning with prior experience 
is an important aspect of educating adults (Merriam, 2008). Therefore, I sent out a 
background questionnaire to all online TCs prior to the start of class (see Appendix A). 
The questionnaire helped me learn more about the teacher candidates' 'learning past,' 
which is an important part of their present and future learning (Kegan, 2000, p. 58). 



29 



The background questionnaire inquired about age, gender, prior experiences with 
diversity, knowledge of other languages, teaching experience, confidence in working 
with culturally and linguistically diverse learners, confidence with the online learning 
environment, and so forth. The questionnaire was a combination of Likert- scale questions 
and open-ended questions and served as a great way to learn more about who the study 
participants were. 

Upon completion of the course, I sent a follow-up questionnaire with five 
questions on it to see what may have changed in their confidence and interest in working 
with ELLs and with the online learning environment. I also asked them to describe their 
overall feelings about how well the ESL for Educators course prepared them to work with 
ELLs (see Appendix E). 

To further help me understand the TCs, their perceived knowledge of 
linguistically diverse education, and their attitudes and beliefs about linguistic diversity, I 
sent them two additional surveys. The first was the Knowledge of ELL Issues Survey, 
which was a ten question Likert-type survey adapted from Teague (2010) (see Appendix 
C). This survey asked the TCs to self-assess their level of knowledge about ELL issues 
that would be covered throughout the semester. This same survey was administered at the 
completion of the course to gauge perceived gains in informational knowledge. 

The second survey was the Language Attitudes of Teachers Scale (LATS) 
(Byrnes & Kiger, 1994; Byrnes, Kiger, & Manning, 1997), which consisted of 13 attitude 
statements concerning language diversity (see Appendix B). The Likert-type responses 
were coded l=strongly disagree, 2=disagree, 3=uncertain, 4=agree, 5=strongly agree. 

30 



Some items were reverse coded (statements two, four and nine). The alpha reliability 
coefficient for the scale was reported at .81 by Byrnes, et al. (1997). Byrnes & Kiger 
(1994) reported the test-retest reliability coefficient as r = .72, n = 28. Face validity was 
established due to the straightforward nature of the statements that addressed linguistic 
diversity issues. However, I have questions about the content validity of this instrument. 
Based on the results of this survey, I am not convinced that it measured what it was 
supposed to measure: linguistic tolerance. Validity concerns will be discussed further in 
the results. 

Since the TCs developed their belief systems long before starting this course 
(Pohan & Aguilar, 2001; Torok & Aguilar, 2000), it was helpful to get a sense of what 
their beliefs and understandings about linguistic diversity and their tolerance of linguistic 
diversity were upon entering the course. In addition, the LATS survey had the potential to 
reveal whether or not the teacher candidates held any biases, prejudices or cultural 
misconceptions that the instructor may have chosen to identify, challenge or address 
during the semester (Pohan & Aguilar, 2001, p. 160). The LATS survey was 
administered again at the completion of the course to help me learn whether or not the 
TCs reported changes in their attitudes or beliefs about cultural and linguistic diversity 
over the course of the semester. 

Interviews 

The questionnaires and surveys provided a brief introduction to the participants, 

but in order to learn more about them and how they made sense of their experiences, I 

arranged an initial interview with each participant. I met with each of them as soon as 

possible at the beginning of the semester. During our first meeting, I asked a few open- 

31 



ended semi-structured questions, basically an extension of their background 
questionnaires. Due to scheduling conflicts, three of the interviews were conducted on the 
phone. All interviews were recorded and transcribed. 

At approximately the mid-way point in the semester, I conducted a second round 
of interviews with each participant. During this meeting I inquired about their 
experiences in the course up to that point in the semester. I looked for possible shifts in 
their thinking and which activities appeared to be making the greatest impact on them so 
far. For this round, two of the six interviews were conducted on the phone. 

For the third and final interview I conducted an adaptation of the subject-object 
interview (Lahey, et al., 1988) to learn about the TCs' course experiences overall and 
how they made sense of those experiences (see Appendix G for interview protocol). 
Using the subject-object interview was an effective way to accomplish this goal. I was 
able to conduct five of the six final interviews in person and one on the phone. Following 
the subject-object protocol (Lahey, et al., 1988), I provided the five participants I 
interviewed in person with ten index cards that contained various prompts: angry, 
anxious, successful, standing up for your beliefs, confused, sad, moved, surprised, 
change, important to me. They had 15-20 minutes to think and jot down any notes they 
would like on the index cards. However, many of them did not use more than about ten 
minutes. I sent the one phone interviewee the prompts in a word document via email, 
which he had the opportunity to think about before we started our phone conversation. 

I assured all participants that they were in complete control of the interview by 
giving them the choice about which cards to talk about and which ones not to talk about. I 

32 



also made it clear that the cards were theirs and I would not read them, which hopefully 
put them more at ease. Throughout the interviews, I tried to keep the atmosphere friendly 
and comfortable. 

Activity Impact Questionnaires 

In addition to the background questionnaires and surveys at the beginning and end 
of the semester, I created two activity impact questionnaires, adapted from Brancard 
(2008). One was administered at the mid- way point in the semester (see Appendix D) and 
one at the end of the semester (see Appendix F). Each course activity was listed, 
including readings, online links, field assignments, journals, online discussions, and so 
forth. The participants were asked to rate each activity and the impact it made on them. 
The purpose of the activity impact questionnaires was to help determine which course 
activities the participants perceived as most interesting/engaging, most helpful in 
preparing them to work with ELLs, most helpful in understanding themselves better 
and/or others better, which caused them to think differently about ELLs, and to what 
extent. 

Attached to each activity impact questionnaire was a related questionnaire to 
gauge their reactions to the online discussion topics. Each week's discussion topic was 
listed and participants were asked whether they would keep, change, or get rid of that 
topic. There was a column for comments after each activity and online discussion topic 
listed. 



33 



Online Discussions, Assignment Write-ups and Reflections 

Throughout the semester I followed the participants' online participation via their 
contributions to the weekly threaded discussions and their assignment write-ups and 
reflections. Included in their assignment write-ups and reflections were: three journal 
entries (beginning, middle, and end of semester entries), three field assignment write- 
ups/reflections (see Appendix J for descriptions), and a final reflection paper (end of 
semester). I incorporated ideas from their write-ups and reflections into the interviews as 
appropriate. Doing so helped me learn how the TCs were constructing their course 
experience as the semester progressed and helped me determine whether or not there 
were particular activities, practices or processes during which transformational learning 
occurred. 

Data Analysis 
I collected and analyzed data throughout the semester of data collection. I began 
analyzing data as soon as I got it. For the Likert-type responses to questionnaires and 
surveys (Background Questionnaire, Knowledge of ELL issues, LATS, activity impact 
questionnaires, and end-of-semester questionnaires), I entered the data into Microsoft 
Excel in order to use descriptive statistics in the reporting the results. Doing so provided a 
picture of the group of adult learners in the study and the individual participants more 
specifically. 

As I conducted interviews and conversations, I jotted down notes and reflected on 
what I heard as I heard it, a process referred to as memoing (Miles & Huberman, 1994). I 
had all interviews transcribed and immediately read the transcriptions as I entered them 

34 



into a Microsoft Word data table, which I used as a tool for analyzing my qualitative data 
(LaPelle, 2004). I used open coding techniques (Corbin & Strauss, 2008) to help me 
identify themes and categories that emerged, which I used to create a theme codebook 
(LaPelle, 2004). This was a recursive process under constant revision as new themes and 
categories emerged. 

More specifically, I used three types of categories in my analysis: organizational, 
substantive, and theoretical categories (Maxwell, 2005) which helped me identify 
information and find evidence to address my research questions. I started with 
organizational categories, the broad areas that I had already anticipated (e.g. prior 
experiences, online learning environment, course experiences, etc.). These served as 
"bins" for sorting my data for further analysis (Maxwell, 2005, p. 97). 

Substantive categories emerged as subcategories of my organizational categories, 
which I did not anticipate prior to data analysis (Maxwell, 2005). The substantive 
categories could not be anticipated because they were taken from the participants' own 
words and were descriptive in nature based on the participants' perceptions, concepts, or 
beliefs (e.g. finding love, personal experience with immigration, father's influence on 
views towards Hispanic students, etc.). 

Based on my own interpretations of the participants' data, I established 
theoretical categories that connected my interpretations of the data with my theoretical 
framework (e.g. subject/object stance, others' perspective-taking, empathy, sense of self, 
sources of authority, etc.). I went back to the interview transcripts and re-read them in 



35 



their entirety to get the big picture of the TCs' experiences and how they were making 
sense of them. This was the final step in the analysis and the most revealing. 

Throughout the recursive coding process, I employed connecting strategies which 
helped me look for relationships among the categories and themes that connected 
statements into a coherent whole (Maxwell, 2005). This helped me to better understand 
the individual participants in the study as well as begin the process of developing a more 
general theory of what was going on in the course. I used the coding and connecting 
processes to analyze interview data as well as written data such as journal entries, 
assignment write-ups and reflections. 

To provide an example of some of the kinds of statements in the data that helped 
me learn about the TCs' learning in general and potential for transformational learning, I 
looked for comments such as: "I did not realize," "I was surprised," "I never thought 

about in this way before," "I learned," "I did not know that," and so forth. I 

examined the context of the statement and what brought about those particular feelings. 
Through analysis I attempted to discover what contributed to shifts in thinking and in 
what ways. 

Ultimately, I sought to learn how TCs experienced the course, what their 
experiences meant to them, what changes took place, if any, in their thinking as a result 
of their participation in the course, and what activities or practices contributed to those 
changes. While it was beyond the scope of the study to identify where the participants fell 
on the subject-object continuum or what their individual stages of development, or ways 
of knowing were, I tried to identify certain abilities and limitations associated with their 

36 



development, tendencies towards certain meaning-making systems, and their senses of 
self. By conducting and analyzing the subject-object interviews and other forms of data 
mentioned above, I was able to infer certain aspects of the TCs' development and 
epistemologies. I will discuss the findings in Chapters 4 and 5. 



37 



CHAPTER 4 
SNAPSHOTS: GLIMPSES INTO RESULTS OF DATA 
In this chapter I present the aggregate results and findings of the study for the 
group. I have organized the results around the major findings, which are aligned with my 
research questions. The major findings are summarized as follows: 

1. The participants entered the ESL for Educators course with a wide range of 
understandings, beliefs and attitudes about linguistic diversity and each of them 
had unique experiences of the course, which were influenced by their 
backgrounds, prior experiences, and individual circumstances during the semester 
of data collection. 

2. The participants developed new understandings about the education of ELLs as a 
result of their participation in the course. 

3. The course activities that appeared to impact the participants' thinking the most 
were the three field assignments, written reflections, and the readings on sheltered 
content instruction. 

4. The reported benefits of the online learning environment were convenience, 
flexibility, and pacing. The reported challenges and limitations of the online 
environment were difficulty finding a routine and staying on track, lack of 
connection with classmates and instructor, fear of miscommunication, superficial 
and repetitive discussions, and limitations of typing versus verbalizing thoughts. 



38 



Finding One 
The TCs enrolled in the online ESL for Educators entered the course with a 
variety of understandings, attitudes and beliefs about linguistic diversity and the 
education of ELLs. Because they all had a different starting point for the course as well 
as unique individual circumstances, each of them experienced the course in very different 
ways. Their experiences were influenced by a multitude of factors such as their 
backgrounds, prior experiences, teaching context, and epistemologies (ways of knowing, 
sources of authority, senses of self). For more detailed descriptions of the participants' 
individual backgrounds and experiences, see Chapter 5. 

Prior Understandings 

Based on the results of the background questionnaire, surveys, and initial 
interviews, it was evident that each of the participants entered the course with a wide 
range of knowledge, understandings, and beliefs regarding cultural and linguistic 
diversity. The TCs' levels of reported knowledge as well as their understandings and 
beliefs about diversity and ELLs were mediated by their prior experiences. 

Prior knowledge. The results of the initial Knowledge of ELL Issues Survey 
indicated that as a group the TCs entered the course with very little knowledge of the 
ELL issues that would be covered in the course. They self-assessed their knowledge of 
ten issues related to the education of ELLs on a scale of one to five, five representing the 
most knowledge. The average score for each of the ten items across all six participants 
was 2.33, which most closely corresponded to level two (very little knowledge). 
However, the averages varied by participant and by topic. 

39 



As shown in table 4.1, the topics of which the TCs reported having the highest 
average knowledge were issues surrounding the debate on bilingual education (3.17), 
legal requirements for educating ELLs (2.83), and how second languages are 
learned/acquired (2.83). While those three topics resulted in the highest level of perceived 
knowledge, they most closely aligned with the descriptor "some knowledge" on the scale. 
The topic of which the TCs reported having the least knowledge was sheltered content 
instruction and how to implement it (1. 33), which most closely aligned with "no 
knowledge." 

Table 4.1 Average (Mean) Responses to Knowledge of ELL Issues Survey by Topic 



Topic 


Average Across 
Participants 


SD 


The local ELL population 


2.5 


1.05 


Local resources/organizations that serve 
ELLs/families 


1.5 


.84 


Legal requirements for educating ELLs 


2.83 


1.17 


History of bilingual education in the U.S. 


2.33 


1.03 


Bilingual program models 


1.5 


.84 


Issues surrounding the debate on bilingual 
education 


3.17 


1.60 


How first languages are learned/acquired 


2.33 


1.03 


How second languages are 
learned/acquired 


2.83 


1.33 


Sheltered content instruction and how to 
implement it 


1.33 


.52 


Effective instructional strategies for ELLs 


2 


1.10 



As shown in table 4.2, average responses for the individual participants varied as 
well. The average self-rated knowledge across the ten topics ranged from a low of 1.2 
(Sofia) to a high of 3.0 (Erik). Both Sofia and Jennifer rated themselves as having "no 
knowledge" to "very little knowledge" on most items; while Erik and Steven rated 
themselves as having "some knowledge" of most topics. Kathy and Patricia fell 
somewhere in between rating themselves as having "very little knowledge" overall. 



40 



These results suggest that most of the topics covered in the course were new to the 
majority of the participants. 



Table 4.2 Average (Mean) Responses of Knowledge of ELL Issues Survey by 

Participant 



Participant 


Average (Mean) Across 
Responses 


SD 


Sofia 


1.2 


.42 


Kathy 


2.3 


.82 


Jennifer 


1.7 


.67 


Patricia 


2.3 


.82 


Steven 


2.9 


1.37 


Erik 


3.0 


1.56 



It is important to note the gender difference in the response to the knowledge of 
ELL issues survey. The two males in the study reported having greater knowledge than 
the females did on the topics presented. None of the participants had engaged in formal 
study on the topic, but the males indicated that they had at least some knowledge of all 
topics while the females reported having less knowledge of the topics overall. The 
difference in intellectual confidence between males and females is not uncommon. 
Belenky (1986) and colleagues report that women have a tendency to speak more in self- 
doubt than men. Sociolinguist Deborah Tannen (1995) agrees by showing that while 
women tend to downplay their certainty, men tend to downplay their doubts. This 
appeared to be the case in this study. 

Prior training. It is important to note that the majority of the participants had no 
prior coursework or preparation in teaching ELLs. In fact, five out of the six participants 
reported having no prior course work or training that prepared them to work with ELLs 



41 



and the one person that did report previous training (Steven) indicated that it resulted in 
very little preparation. 

Prior experience with other cultures. Because the group as a whole had very little 
or no prior training in the area of ELL education, the knowledge and understandings that 
they did bring with them about ELL issues were directly related to their own personal 
backgrounds and experiences. Five of the six participants had spent time abroad at 
various points in their lives (all but Patricia) and all six of them had exposure in one form 
or another to a language other than English. Two of the participants (Kathy and Erik) had 
previously taught ESL abroad. Kathy taught ESL in Korea and traveled extensively 
overseas and Erik taught ESL in Japan and also lived in China and Germany. Jennifer 
took several trips to Mexico as a child for vacations and as an adult for mission work. 
And while she did not specifically teach ESL, she taught swimming lessons in English 
during those mission trips. Steven studied abroad in Thailand and planned to travel to 
Asia upon the conclusion of the semester. Overall, the TCs reported an average of 3.5 out 
of five with respect to their experience with and/or knowledge of other cultures (five 
being the greatest amount of experience/knowledge). 

Interest versus confidence in teaching ELLs. Possibly due to their own 

experiences with diversity, the group overall reported a relatively high level of interest in 

having ELLs in their classrooms (4.33 out of five). This suggests that while the TCs 

entered the course with varied experience and knowledge of other cultures and diversity, 

they generally had a high interest in working with ELLs with the possible exception of 

Jennifer who reported a lower level of interest (three out of five) than the rest of the 

group. 

42 



As figure 4.1 illustrates, the TCs' reported level of experience with other cultures 
as well as their reported level of interest in having ELLs in their classrooms was 
significantly higher overall than their reported level of confidence and/or ability to teach 
them. This lack of confidence may have been due to their lack of prior training. With the 
exception of Steven and Erik who rated their confidence to teach ELLs as high (five out 
of five), Sofia, Kathy, Jennifer, and Patricia rated their confidence much lower (ones and 
twos out of five). As a group overall they reported an average level of confidence of 2.67 
out of five. 




i Knowledge of other 
cultures 

I Interest in having ELLs 



Confidence in teaching 
ELLs 



Figure 4. 1 Reported Knowledge of Other Cultures, Interest in Having ELLs in their 
Classrooms, and Confidence/ Ability to Teach ELLs at the Beginning of 
the Semester 

The results again highlight the difference in response by gender. The males report 

being extremely confident in their abilities and the women do not. None of the four 

women rated their confidence higher than a two out of five; not even Patricia who had 

more experience than anyone in working with ELLs. The results of this survey are in line 

with the common practice among women of downplaying certainty and the common 

practice among men of minimizing doubts (Tannen, 1995). 

43 



Prior Attitudes and Beliefs 

The pre-semester Language Attitudes of Teachers Scale (LATS) (see Appendix 
B) and my initial interviews with each participant showed that there was some variation 
in attitudes regarding the role of English language instruction and the education of ELLs 
in general upon entering the course. It is important to present the results of the survey as 
one piece of the puzzle. However, it is important to note that the interview data at times 
conflicted with the LATS responses. Therefore, I relied more heavily on interview data 
for clarification because I was not convinced that this instrument accurately represented 
the teacher candidates' attitudes about cultural and linguistic diversity. Appreciation for 
diverse cultures was not reflected in this survey. 

The responses to the 13 statements on the LATS survey were added up and each 
participant was given an overall score. Three items were reverse coded (two, four, and 
nine). A higher score suggested less tolerance of linguistic diversity (Byrnes & Kiger, 
1994; Byrnes, et al., 1997). The average score for the participants overall was 25.33 (SD 
= 8.41). 

With respect to the individual participants, Kathy's score was the lowest at 13, 
which was also the lowest score possible on the survey. This suggested that Kathy was 
extremely tolerant of linguistic diversity upon entering the course and the most tolerant 
out of the six total participants. The next lowest score was Patricia's (20) followed by 
Sofia (24), Erik (27), and Jennifer (31). The highest score was Steven's (37) suggesting 
that Steven was the least tolerant of linguistic diversity out of the group of participants 
(see table 4.3). 



44 



Table 4.3 LATS Scores at Beginning of Semester 



Participant 


Beginning 


Sofia 


24 


Kathy 


13 


Jennifer 


31 


Patricia 


20 


Steven 


37 


Erik 


27 



Responses of "strongly disagree" and "disagree" on the LATS survey were 
associated with a greater level of tolerance for linguistic diversity. The average response 
across all six participants was a 1.95 (SD = .65) which most closely corresponded to 
"disagree." This would suggest that while there was variation by response and by 
participant, as a group overall they were generally tolerant of linguistic diversity upon 
entering the course. 

The responses to individual statements on the LATS offered additional insights 
into some of the specific attitudes toward linguistic diversity held by the participants. For 
example, the majority of participants, with the exception of Steven, expressed that they 
felt it was important for people in the U.S. to learn a language in addition to English. 
Sofia even enrolled in a Spanish class during the same semester she took ESL for 
Educators. 

Five of the six participants, with the exception of Erik, indicated that they felt 
regular classroom teachers should be required to receive pre-service or in-service training 
to be prepared to meet the needs of linguistic minorities. Erik reported being uncertain 
about that. If they were answering honestly, this would suggest that while the ESL for 



45 



Educators course was a requirement for the TCs, most felt it was important and 
necessary. 

All six of the participants expressed that they felt having an English learner in 
their class would not be detrimental to the learning of other students. This would suggest 
that at the beginning of the course the group overall embraced the idea of having diverse 
learners in their classes. Kathy's statements reflected that belief. 

When you have an ELL student pop up you have to, you have to, it's 
unconscionable not to support that student. . .1 mean it doesn't matter whether you 
believe that someone should be in this country or not, or whatever. That child, 
someone put that child in your charge, and you need to do the best for that child. 

Steven expressed similar sentiments. "It's a demographic of student in which we must 
reach. If we do not reach these students here in the United States well our future 
generations are only going to be declining. It's just the way it is." However, while 
Jennifer indicated on the survey that she did not think having ELLs in her class would be 
detrimental to the learning of the others her interview data suggest that she was not quite 
sure. 

I thought, "Okay, well I'm going to have to work with these kids you know, to 
help them understand this vocabulary - you know, these words, so that they can 
do whatever they need to do. That would be like taking time away from the rest 
of the class. . .It's a little confusing and difficult to sort of mentally ... I mean 
you're already managing the idea of you having students who get the material and 
students who do not get the material, and students in the middle who are 
progressing, and then to add students who sort of speak English, speak English 
pretty well, and speak English perfectly - it's like 'Whoa!' That's a lot to take 
care of. 

While the majority of the participants reported feeling as though the rapid 
learning of English should not be a priority for ELLs if it meant losing their native 
language, half of the participants were uncertain as to whether or not parents of ELLs 

46 



should be counseled to speak English with their children whenever possible. Half of the 
participants also expressed uncertainty about whether or not the learning of English 
should take precedence over learning subject matter at school. This may be due to the fact 
that most of the TCs had no previous training in ESL education and rated their overall 
knowledge of sheltered content instruction as practically nothing. 

The interview data offered additional insights into the TCs' attitudes about the 
importance of learning English. Erik voiced his opinion about the subject. 

You're in America, you should learn to speak English. . .So, if you expect to 
operate efficiently in this country, you need to know English. You're perfectly 
fine speaking Spanish in your home or wherever you want to speak it, but you 
need to know English. . .1 lived in Japan, I learned Japanese. I lived in China, I 
learned Chinese. I lived in Germany, I learned German. For Germans living in 
America, I would expect them to be interested in learning English. 

Patricia revealed that at the beginning of the course her understanding was that ELLs 
should master English first before anything else. "I felt that <ELLs> needed more to 
catch up in the language before they could even attempt to understand the academic 
material." 

Other participants, such as Kathy, expressed less of a sense of urgency about 
learning English and more on the importance of embracing other cultures and languages. 
"We have to accept them for what they believe. We can't force our views on them. We 
can explain our views to them, but we can't force them." She continued to say, 



I remember I was very frustrated, because a lot of people were saying, 'This is 
America, and they should be speaking English'. And I'm like 'Why should they 
accommodate themselves to us? Why?' We should embrace everything. There 
are so many nice things out there, and we try to throw it all away. 



47 



Sofia also stressed the importance of being accepting of others and not judging them 
based on their English language ability. 

We can be very insensitive. People aren't dumb because they don't speak 
English. They're not deaf either. It's just frustrating... I feel kind of... someone's 
got to stick up for these people, because they can't help it. They need to learn, 
and yelling at them is not going to make them learn any faster. 

Summary of Finding One 

Each of the participants entered this course with varying degrees of experience 
with other cultures and knowledge of issues surrounding the education of ELLs as well as 
differing attitudes about linguistic diversity. Due to their participation in the course and 
their individual circumstances, each of the participants experienced the course in very 
unique and different ways. The type of change that occurred as a result of the TCs' 
course participation will be discussed in the next section. 

Finding Two 
Each of the six participants changed in some way through their experiences of the 
ESL for Educators course. While common themes of change emerged across the group of 
participants, the specific types of changes varied from person to person. The perceived 
gain of knowledge, the reported change in attitudes and beliefs, and the realizations the 
participants made about the education of ELLs and about themselves as educators of 
ELLs were unique for each individual. 

Change in Reported Knowledge of ELL Issues 

The results of the post-semester Knowledge of ELL Issues Survey showed a 

reported increase in knowledge for all six participants across all survey responses. As 

shown in table 4.4, Sofia assessed her level of knowledge of ELL issues at the beginning 

48 



as basically "no knowledge" overall, which resulted in the greatest reported gain (+2.6) 
aligning most closely with "quite a bit of knowledge." Patricia increased as well (+2.1) 
followed by Kathy (+1.8), Erik (+1.4), and Jennifer (+1.25). Steven reported the lowest 
increase in knowledge responses across all ten items (+.50). Both his pre and post- 
semester self-assessment put him at "some knowledge" overall. 

Table 4.4 Average (Mean) Change to Responses on Knowledge of ELL Issues 

Survey by Participant 



Participant 


Pre 


SD 


Post 


SD 


Change 


Sofia 


1.2 


.42 


3.8 


.42 


+2.6 


Kathy 


2.3 


.82 


4.1 


.74 


+1.8 


Jennifer 


1.7 


.67 


2.95 


.64 


+1.25 


Patricia 


2.3 


.82 


4.4 


.97 


+2.1 


Steven 


2.9 


1.37 


3.4 


.84 


+0.50 


Erik 


3.0 


1.56 


4.4 


.84 


+1.4 



As shown in table 4.5 the survey topic that showed the greatest perceived increase 
in knowledge for the group overall was sheltered content instruction and how to 
implement it (+2.42). The TCs indicated at the beginning of the semester that sheltered 
instruction was the topic they knew the least about. The average jumped from 1.33 ("no 
knowledge") to 3.75 ("quite a bit of knowledge"). On the other end of the spectrum, the 
topic that resulted in the least perceived gain in knowledge for the group was how second 
languages are learned/acquired (+.92). The group rated themselves as having "some 
knowledge" of second language acquisition coming into the course (2.83) and ended up 
at 3.75 ("quite a bit of knowledge") as a group overall. 



49 



Table 4.5 Average (Mean) Change on Knowledge of ELL Issues Survey by Topic 



Topic 


Pre 


Post 


Change 


The local ELL population 


2.5 


4.17 


+1.67 


Local resources/organizations that 
serve ELLs/families 


1.5 


3 


+1.5 


Legal requirements for educating 
ELLs 


2.83 


4.33 


+1.5 


History of bilingual education in the 
U.S. 


2.33 


4 


+1.67 


Bilingual program models 


1.5 


3.5 


+2.0 


Issues surrounding the debate on 
bilingual education 


3.17 


4.33 


+1.16 


How first languages are 
learned/acquired 


2.33 


3.92 


+1.59 


How second languages are 
learned/acquired 


2.83 


3.75 


+0.92 


Sheltered content instruction and 
how to implement it 


1.33 


3.75 


+2.42 


Effective instructional strategies for 
ELLs 


2 


3.67 


+1.67 



Change in Reported Level of Interest in Having ELLs in Class 

Kathy, Steven and Erik, the three participants who originally rated their interest in 
having ELLs in their class at a five (the highest level of interest), re-rated their level of 
interest at fives, which indicated that they came in to the course with a high interest and 
left the course with a high interest in working with linguistically diverse learners. 
Therefore, there was no perceived change in interest for half of the participants. As 
illustrated in figure 4.2, the other half of the participants did report a change in their level 
of interest in working with ELLs. Sofia and Patricia reported an increased level of 
interest (both jumping from a four to a five) and one participant, lennifer, reported a 
decrease in interest with working with ELLs (changing from a five to a four). She 
explained that her lower interest was due to the fact that she felt unprepared to work with 
ELLs. 



50 




I Beginning of Semester 
I End of Semester 



* 



& z& ■*& .& 



1? 



& 



A^ 



& 



# 



Figure 4.2 Change in Reported Interest in Having ELLs in Classroom: Beginning and 
End of the Semester 



Change in Reported Level of Confidence to Teach ELLs 

When asked about their confidence and/or ability in teaching ELLs, five out of the 
six participants reported a change in their level of confidence. Steven was the exception. 
Steven came in to the course extremely confident (rating his confidence at a five out of 
five) and left the course extremely confident (also at a five), suggesting that his perceived 
level of confidence did not change as a result of his participation in the course. Four out 
of the six participants reported an increase in their confidence and/or ability to work with 
ELLs: Sofia, Kathy, Jennifer, and Patricia (see Figure 4.3). However, one person reported 
a decrease in his confidence and/or ability to teach ELLs: Erik. This may be due to the 
fact that he realized the limitations of transferring his prior ESL teaching experience 
abroad to teaching ELLs in a history class in the U.S. 



51 



I was in Japan, I was teaching English, and for the Japanese, their English needs 
are different than what an ELL kid needs here in the US. I guess I kind of, sort of 
had that in the back of my head, but after I did the <school> visit, it really came to 
the front. 

He mentioned that "it's not a one size fits all" and came to the realization about the 
importance of acknowledging that learners' needs are different everywhere. 



Yeah, you kind of gotta think, 'Oh, ESL is the same here, it's the same there, it's 
the same everywhere,' but it's not the same everywhere. The needs are different 
from one group of people to another. I think you need to be aware of even the 
difference between kids here and adults here. 




I Beginning of Semester 
I End of Semester 



Sofia Kathy Jennifer Patricia Steven Erik 



Figure 4.3 Reported Change in Confidence/ Ability in Teaching ELLs 

Patricia discussed her gain in knowledge and confidence as empowering. "All of 
the awareness has eased, or I don't know if eased is the correct term to use, maybe 
empowered. I feel empowered that I know at least a good amount. I have a good toolbox 
now that I can start putting into action, I feel like I can do it." 



52 



Jennifer, on the other hand, felt more overwhelmed by the amount of information 
presented which contributed to her decrease in confidence and interest in working with 
ELLs. "My interest is low because I do not feel prepared to instruct ELLs." She also 
discussed feelings of nervousness about teaching ELLs. 

But then, it was like, "Oh my gosh, what did I learn? I don't know what I'm... 
What was that last thing that we studied last chapter, or last week?" It just felt like 
there was a new thought every week, and it was like I wasn't getting more 
confidence, so I became more nervous about teaching ELLs by the end of the 
class than I was in the middle of the class. 

Change in Teaching Practice: Kathy and Patricia 

Kathy and Patricia were the only two participants who were teaching during the 
semester they took the ESL for Educators course. Implications of teaching context on 
course design will be discussed in further detail in Chapter 6. In talking about changes 
that took place as a result of course participation, it is necessary to include the changes in 
practice that took place for both Kathy and Patricia due to what they learned in the 
course. Kathy said, 

My thinking has totally shifted on how you teach ELLs, and I've learned a lot of 
strategies on how you teach ELLs, and I think I would have, I think without some 
of those strategies, I would have done things a little differently, and I don't think I 
would have been as successful. 

Kathy highlighted evidence of impact on the academic growth of her ELL. "So 
this week I started using effective ELL strategies, and my scores just jumped... So, 
<Sam> was an F student and now, he's a B student." Not only did she see success in her 
ELL based on newly implemented strategies, but she saw success with the rest of the 
class as well. 



53 



So I have him with a buddy, I'm presenting the words in Spanish and in English, 
I'm doing a lot of manipulatives. And, so I'm doing a lot of things without 
talking with him, just showing and demonstrating, and that seems to be getting 
along. And the other kids seem to be getting it too from manipulatives. 
Manipulatives really work. 

Kathy also discussed her feelings on the importance of using native language support. 



I have one child who is just barely understands any English, and I try to do 
everything in the course in Spanish for him that I can, but I try to tell him it in 
English and Spanish. . . And then I ask him in the journal, can you please try to 
journal for me in English and then journal for me in Spanish? Because, I can read 
the Spanish, why shouldn't I read it if I can? That would be totally ridiculous not 
to use that asset. 

Patricia described the changes she made in her teaching practice based on what 
she learned in the course. 

I have been able to do some things differently. I've really made an effort to try to 
know the kids on a personal level, especially those ELL kids and make sure we 
talk about their home life and not in an invading way, but just 'what do you like to 
do when you have free time?' kind of thing. Trying to really incorporate them in 
the classroom with cooperative learning strategies and making sure they are 
interacting with each other and not just within their group but also getting to know 
the other kids that are of different background in the classroom. It's not just about 
them getting to know other kids, it's about other kids getting to know them, too. 
So that they can go to class and really feel comfortable in that sense. 

Kathy and Patricia also mentioned the role of the parents in their ELLs' 
education. Kathy in particular developed new understandings about the importance of 
understanding the parents. 'Another big thing is just really, understanding their parents, 
and helping them, helping them cope. I mean it can be a big change. We don't know the 
reasons why they came to the United States. We don't know what was motivating 
them..." 

Sharing new knowledge with other educators. Both Kathy and Patricia discussed 
the importance of taking what they learned in the ESL for Educators course and sharing 

54 



that with other educators in their buildings. Patricia met with her principal and together 
they conducted an in-service training for the teachers at her school during that same 
semester. 

It's actually really cool, because I took Sheltered Content Instruction into the 
principal at my school. . . And so I said, "What can we do to start implementing the 
SIOP model within every classroom?" because we have such a high population of 
ELL students in our school that I feel like every class should be using sheltered 
content instruction. And so, he was extremely receptive to it, and he really 
wanted to get something going. And so we put some books together, put a 
PowerPoint together, and did a training of that model for all teachers there. It was 
really cool. So now, they're implementing language objectives. We talked about 
multi-sensory instruction. So that's been really cool. That's where a lot of the 
learning for me has taken place. 

Even though Kathy did not conduct trainings at her school immediately, she saw 
it as a role she would be taking on in the future. She discussed becoming an advocate for 
learners with exceptional needs and felt that starting with ELLs made good sense. 

I want to advocate for my children who have exceptional needs. English 
Language Learners have exceptional needs; there's many, many different 
exceptional needs and reasons why children have needs. And putting it in the 
perspective, starting with the ELLs at a starting point, allowed me to see a lot 
more about diversity. . .and for my ELL students, it's a foreign language, and we 
have to realize that - that foreign language doesn't necessarily mean foreign born. 
It means that the child has some need that's exceptional with regards to language 
or social interactions, and we need to be aware of that. Something I am definitely 
going to advocate for these children, because they don't have anyone to stand up 
for them. . .I'm not the ELL coordinator, but I feel like I am. . . I see that I'm going 
to be doing that in my school. My principal is brand new, too, so he sees it as a 
need, and he's like so glad that I want to take that on, because he saw it as a need 
and hasn't had anybody to realize it. We have a fantastic team at my school. 

Patricia also saw herself as an advocate for the ELLs in her school. "I think they need 
somebody that's going to be their advocate right now, because they're the population that 
struggles the most at our school." 



55 



New Understandings about the Education of ELLs 

Importance of teaching both content and language. Several participants in the 
study indicated that through their participation in the course, they learned the importance 
of teaching both content and language objectives. Erik said, "The thing I got from this 
course is how important it is to teach the subject matter to the child, even if they don't 
quite understand the language." Patricia stated, 

Comprehensible input was probably - 1 mean I think that was one of the huge 
ideas for me to get into my head, was that anything that I present to them really 
needs to be comprehensible to them, so I need to make sure that I can assess their 
levels of content and language knowledge, and then combine those things together 
and make sure that I am presenting information in a way that they can understand, 
so that was huge. 

Role of native language. Sofia came to the realization that the ability a student has 
in his or her native language will impact where they are in English. 

I think that it gives me a little bit better idea of how, where they're at in their 
native language, really impacts where they're at in English, because if they don't 
have the knowledge in their native language, then how can we expect the same 
thing in English, because that would, you know, the words are completely 
different, and if you don't understand the concepts, you know, that puts you ... I 
think it'd be a really tough area to be in. . . 

Patricia came to a similar realization. "The content knowledge plays into the 
language, because they may have some background knowledge, but they may not be able 
to verbalize it in English." And while she acknowledged the importance of teaching both 
content and language objectives, the application of it caused her to feel overwhelmed. 
"Having to cover both content and language in the classroom is something that seems 
very overwhelming, and because I haven't fully implemented it, I don't know what it's 
going to be like yet." 



56 



Change in Attitudes and Beliefs 

Change in LATS scores. The LATS was designed to measure levels of linguistic 
tolerance with higher scores suggesting lower tolerance (Byrnes & Kiger, 1994). See 
table 4.6 for changes in TCs' scores from the beginning to the end of the semester. The 
three participants that changed by more than two points were Patricia (+4), Steven (+4), 
and Jennifer (+11). Since their scores were higher, these results would suggest that 
Patricia, Steven and Jennifer became less tolerant of linguistic diversity over the course 
of the semester. Based on interview data, I am not convinced that they became less 
tolerant of culturally and linguistically diverse learners; thus calling into question the 
validity of the instrument. 

Table 4.6 Change in LATS Scores from Beginning to End of Semester 



Participant 


Beginning 


End 


Difference 


Sofia 


24 


23 


-1 


Kathy 


13 


15 


+2 


Jennifer 


31 


42 


+11 


Patricia 


20 


24 


+4 


Steven 


37 


41 


+4 


Erik 


27 


26 


-1 



When the scores of the six participants were combined and averaged, they showed 
an average gain of 3.17 (SD = 4.45) (see table 4.7). This result would suggest that as a 
group overall they became less tolerant of linguistic diversity. Again, the results may be 
showing that they became more convinced of the importance of teaching English and the 
complex demands placed on teachers to meet the needs of CLD learners rather than that 
they became less tolerant. 



57 



Table 4.7 Average (Mean) LATS Scores for the Group at Beginning and End of 

Semester 





Mean Pre 


SD 


Mean 
Post 


SD 


Mean 
Gain 


SD 


Combined 
(n=6) 


25.33 


8.41 


28.5 


10.75 


3.17 


4.45 



The individual statements on the LATS that resulted in the greatest change were 
statements 6 and 1 1 . Statement 6 reads, "The rapid learning of English should be a 
priority for non-English proficient or limited-English-proficient students even if it means 
losing the ability to speak their native language." Sofia, Patricia, Jennifer, and Steven 
changed their response to be in more agreement with this statement. Sofia and Patricia 
went from "strongly disagree" to "disagree." This indicates the same opinion, but the 
strength of it changed. Jennifer went from being uncertain to agreeing with the statement. 
And Steven went from "disagree" to "agree." This may indicate less tolerance or it may 
show an increased awareness in the importance of teaching English. 

For statement 11, "At school, the learning of the English language by non- or 
limited-English proficient children should take precedence over learning subject matter''' 
Patricia, Jennifer and Erik were originally uncertain about this statement. Patricia and 
Erik changed their response to "disagree," but Jennifer, on the other hand, changed her 
response to "agree." Steven was the other person who changed, but he went from 
"strongly disagree" to "disagree." 

The LATS results suggest that the participants became less tolerant of linguistic 
diversity overall (Byrnes & Kiger, 1994; Byrnes, et al., 1997). Another possible 
explanation for the change is that those who changed their responses to appear less 

58 



tolerant may have became more convinced of the importance of learning English, more 
sensitive to teacher demands, and more aware of the need for professional preparation to 
meet the needs of their diverse learners. Based on other forms of data, such as interviews 
and written reflections, I would not conclude that the participants' attitudes towards ELLs 
become more negative. This again calls into question the validity of the instrument and 
highlights the importance of the triangulation of data, which helps paint a clearer picture 
of the phenomena taking place. For example, in talking with Patricia in interviews I 
would have predicted that she had become more tolerant and aware of issues surrounding 
linguistic diversity, the opposite of what the LATS scores suggested (Byrnes & Kiger, 
1994; Byrnes, et al., 1997). She consistently talked about important realizations she had 
made during the semester such as becoming an advocate and altering her teaching 
practice to better meet the needs of her ELLs. 

I think that part of the big revelation for me so far have just been that for these 
ELL students I have to be thinking about the whole student and not just the 
language, but what else are they experiencing at home that's affecting, what else 
are they experiencing in life that could be affecting where they are at right now. . . 
I think that's been the big thing is that it's not just the language component, but 
there are so many other components that are involved in their ability to retain and 
learn information. 

Change in feelings of empathy. A few of the participants indicated that they felt a 
sense of empathy for ELLs or felt they could relate to ELLs in some way. It is difficult to 
ascertain whether or not their feelings of empathy were influenced more by course 
participation or other experiences. Sofia, for example, was enrolled in a Spanish class 
during the semester she took the ESL for Educators course. She described herself as a 
"Spanish language learner" and talked often about how that experience influenced her 
course experiences and her thinking about ELLs. "It's just making me think about things 

59 



different, the class and having the Spanish class both I think are probably the two biggest 
things that have affected how I think. Because now I'm a Spanish Language Learner. . ." 
Sofia continued to describe the connections she made between her Spanish class and the 
ESL for Educators class and how being a Spanish learner allowed her to better put herself 
in the shoes of ELLs. 

<The Spanish teacher> said that she'll be trying to explain something about 
grammar, and she just gets this (gestures a blank stare) from some of the students, 
and nobody asks questions, because she says, "are there any questions?" People 
don't understand what the assignments are about. I think that's kind of like how 
an English learner would feel in a regular class. They don't quite get everything 
that's going on, but you don't want to ask a question, because then you look 
stupid. And sometimes, you don't know how to form the question even. I think 
it's kind of neat to be able to take both of these at the same time and see how they 
kind of go together. 

Erik mentioned that based on his experiences abroad he, too, felt a sense of 
empathy for ELLs. 

For me, you know, as I've learned, I've been a steady in Japan when my Japanese 
wasn't very good. I've lived in Germany, and I didn't speak German. So I think I 
have a little more empathy for kids who are in sort of the similar situation here in 
the United States, where certainly you're here - not by choice, because you're six, 
you're seven, eight, nine, or whatever. But you're expected to swim, and 
everyone just says, 'well, kids learn languages fast.' And, that doesn't really help 
you. 

And Steven talked about how he would be able to relate to all types of kids. He 
did not specifically mention ELLs, but it was implied in our conversation. "Yeah, I can 
relate to kids. I can relate to them. You know, gangsters, jocks, musicians, mutes, dudes, 
females, gays, whatever, I relate to them. 'Cause it is what it is; you are who you are." 

Finally, Patricia reflected on her former ELLs in a new way and with a greater 
sense of empathy based on her new understandings. 



60 



I actually felt sad that as the semester went on and I had increasing awareness for 
the needs of these ELL students that I could look back on previous experiences 
and identify what I could have done better and what I you know probably should 
have been aware of before. But I didn't know, and I could have helped them be 
more successful. So, I think that's the first thing that really came to mind, 
because I just I look back on these students that I know were struggling, and at the 
time I didn't know what I could do, so it's - 1 guess it's bitter sweet. . .1 think what 
I've realized most, what has made me most sad is before I would have said, 'oh 
maybe they have lots going on at home', and 'their parents aren't really invested 
in their education,' and maybe that's why this is leading to this circumstance. I 
think that the increasing awareness allowed me to see every single component that 
could be involved. And their lack of success in the classroom - so not just 
language barriers, not just the affective issues, but everything combined - maybe 
the family issues, are just one small piece of it. It's my job to assess all of those 
issues. And just realizing that I hadn't been, was probably the sad part for me. 

Change in awareness of local ELL population. The knowledge of ELL issues 
survey topic about knowing the local ELL population at the beginning of the course 
resulted in an average between "no knowledge" and "very little knowledge," but jumped 
to "quite a bit of knowledge" at the end of the semester. This is important because the 
TCs' assumptions were challenged about what the local ELL population consists of. 

Several participants admitted that when they heard "ESL" or "ELL" they used to 
think "Spanish-speaking." Jennifer said, "In my mind, I always thought of ESLs as being 
mainly Spanish-speaking." And Steven agreed by stating, "The thought is ESL for 
Spanish." The TCs described themselves as being "surprised" and "shocked" by the 
statistics of our local ELL population, to include both the numbers of ELLs as well as the 
number of languages represented. They learned this information largely from the first 
field assignment which required them to watch a panel discussion video of local ELL 
directors. Patricia said, "I gained a lot from the panel, because it was just - 1 didn't know 
anything about it, and that was my first glimpse into what it was really like." Sofia 
agreed, 

61 



I think mostly, the thing that had probably the biggest impact was watching the 
video from the panel because it surprised me. I didn't realize that in our town we 
had so many English Language Learners. I really didn't. . . So I just really hadn't 
been exposed to it, and I was just really surprised. I just didn't think it was that 
big of a need in this city. 

Other participants echoed those feelings of surprise. Jennifer admitted, "I think 
I've thought a lot about Hispanic and Spanish is the native language and you hear that 
and it's like wow it could be anybody. There could be any language in your room." 
Steven expressed, 

It just was very surprising how many different languages are represented in <local 
school districtsx Those numbers were surprising. I thought they would have been 
a lot smaller. It was astonishing. . .1 just never thought that the problems were that 
big, especially <here in town>, but they are, and they're everywhere. 

And Erik concluded, "I guess you think going into it that it's all pretty much even. You 
don't realize how divided it is, the immigrant population is in the city." 

Summary of Change 

In conclusion, it was evident that each of the participants gained new 
understandings about the education of ELLs and some of them also showed evidence of 
change in their attitudes and beliefs due to their participation in the course. Most of the 
TCs gained confidence in teaching ELLs based on what they learned and the two who 
were teaching at the time were able to directly apply what they learned and with which 
they experienced success. However, two of the TCs decreased in their confidence 
because of new understandings they developed. In certain cases the participants gained a 
greater sense of empathy for ELLs and reflected back on their prior experiences with the 
new understandings and knowledge they gained over the course of the semester. 



62 



Finding Three 
Based on the results of the pre and post Knowledge of ELL Issues survey, the pre 
and post LATS survey, the interviews and reflections, it was evident that certain course 
activities impacted the thinking of the TCs more than others. The aspects of the course 
that they reported as having the greatest impact on them were the field assignments, 
reflection paper, journals, and the Sheltered Content Instruction textbook (Echevarria & 
Graves, 2010). Overall, the course contributed to the acquisition of informational 
learning, a change in what a person knows, but in few instances led to transformational 
learning, a change in how a person knows. I will discuss transformational learning further 
in Chapter 6. 

Activity Impact Questionnaire 

Half-way through the semester the participants were asked to fill out a mid- 
semester activity impact questionnaire (see Appendix D). At the end of the semester they 
were asked to fill out another course activity impact questionnaire using the same 
guidelines as the first (see Appendix F). Participants rated each activity based on how 
interesting and/or engaging they felt it was as well as the activity's ability to help prepare 
them to work with ELLs, help them to understand themselves better, understand others 
better, and whether or not the course challenged them to think differently about ELLs. 
The TCs rated the activities on a scale from zero to five, zero being not helpful/engaging 
and five being extremely helpful/engaging. I added up the average scores for each 
activity and included in table 4.8 the activities that had an average score of four or higher. 
Those that had an average score of four or higher, indicating activities the TCs felt had 



63 



the greatest impact on them, were: the three field assignments, the sheltered content 
instruction textbook, the journals, and the final reflection paper. 

Table 4.8 Activities That Resulted in Greatest Reported Impact 



Activity 


Description 


Mean rating 


SD 


Field Assignment 1 


Local ELL directors 
panel discussion video 


4.54 
(mid-term) 


.43 


Field Assignment 2 


Cultural experience in 
unfamiliar language 


4.08 
(mid-term) 


.40 


Sheltered Content 
Instruction Text 


Textbook on sheltered 
instruction techniques 


4.04 
(mid-term) 


.53 


Journals 


Beginning, middle 
and end of semester 
reflections 


4.08 
(end-semester) 


.33 


Field Assignment 3 


ESL observation and 
interview with ESL 
teacher 


4.48 
(end-semester) 


.36 


Final reflection 
paper 


Reflection of 
experiences over the 
course of the semester 


4.12 
(end-semester) 


.27 



Field assignments. The topic of field assignments emerged as one of the most 
common themes throughout the interviews. Other than a few comments that I considered 
negative, the vast majority were overwhelmingly positive. Patricia said in reference to the 
field assignments, "those were all great. I was thinking back on all three. Those were 
wonderful!" Sofia agreed by stating, "All the field assignments were really good." 

Field assignment one asked the TCs to watch a video of a panel discussion 
between four ESL coordinators from local school districts that took place the previous 
semester. As mentioned under finding two, the content of the video appeared to make a 
great impact on the thinking of the participants. The realizations they made about the 
local ELL population were described as "shocking," "surprising" and "eye-opening" by 
many. Steven described his surprise. 



64 



Something that surprised me was watching that English as a second language 
panel directors' discussion. It just was very surprising how many different 
languages are represented in <local districts in town>. Those numbers were 
surprising. I thought they would have been a lot smaller. It was astonishing. 

Erik attributed a big realization he made about the importance of teaching content 
to the information he got from watching the panel discussion. 

That was one thing I got from the panel discussion was that it doesn't matter if 
you say I'm teaching history. It doesn't matter if they learn it in Spanish, 
German, or French, or Russian, or whatever, as long as he knows who George 
Washington is and why George Washington is important. That is the important 
thing. And you know maybe it takes him a little while to figure it out in his native 
language, but as long as he gets it at the end, that's all that matters. 

Kathy discussed how she wished she had learned the information presented on the 
video sooner. 

The thing that I learned the most from was the ... field assignment that she had us 
watch. . . the panel. That's what I learned the most from. I said, 'Oh, oh, how 
stupid, yes. It just went ping and ping and ping.' Things have been much better 
since I did that. . . so if I had realized all that stuff ahead of time, I think <my 
ELL> would have been better off right now. 

Patricia also discussed her feelings about the panel discussion. "I gained a lot 
from the panel, because it was just - 1 didn't know anything about it, and that was my first 
glimpse into what it was really like." And Jennifer, too, found the panel informative. 
"Even the video on hearing all those ESL coordinators. . .that was real learning." 

Field assignment two was the cultural field assignment that required students to 

attend a cultural event, religious service or language class that was conducted in a 

language with which they were not familiar. The majority of the participants attended 

religious services conducted in a language other than English and most of them expressed 

that it was a positive and eye-opening experience for them. Several of the TCs also 

expressed that they were thankful for the opportunity and likely would not have done it 

65 



on their own. Sofia's comment sums up the thoughts of herself and others. "I'm really 
glad that I got the opportunity to do that, because I never would have done it on my own, 
I don't think. Who would? Why would we put ourselves in that kind of situation? I think 
it was really, it was really good." 

A common theme that emerged in the assignment reflections as well as in the 
interviews was that of the importance of feeling welcome in an unfamiliar situation. 
Often it was just one person at the service or event who made the TCs feel more welcome 
and hence more comfortable. Patricia described her experience at a Jewish temple and 
how one woman approached her and helped her to feel included when she was otherwise 
feeling like an outsider. Patricia took that experience and related it to her ELLs. 

<ELLs> can end up being completely introverted because of <an experience of 
feeling like an outsider>, and that can hinder their growth. So, I think my whole 
assessment on that field assignment was just that it's extremely important to make 
the students feel totally welcome and comfortable and a part of the classroom and 
that they matter. 

Interestingly, Patricia revealed that she did not have those big revelations right away. It 
was not until she began reflecting upon it that it began to click for her. 

Well, the temple was really interesting, because after I went, I didn't really have 
any huge epiphanies or anything. It wasn't until I started writing about it that I 
really knew what was going on. I kind of discovered, through the process, how 
important it is for students to feel socially and emotionally comfortable in their 
environment and accepted and wanted. 

Similarly, Jennifer mentioned the process of writing about the experience as beneficial. 
"You're going to a culture... That was a real learning experience, and writing about that 
was a good thing to do." 



66 



Another common theme that emerged was that of coming to a realization that 
even though we are all different, deep down we are also very much the same. Sofia made 
that revelation after her experience at the mosque she attended. "For me, it's like, 'Wow! 
We are the same.' I mean, I knew that, but to actually like feel that, it was really cool." 

Steven described an emotional experience he had at Russian Orthodox and Greek 
Orthodox churches. This experience helped Steven take on the perspective of what it 
might be like for someone to come here from another country and experience a language 
barrier. 

Well, what I did is I went to a couple of churches. I went to a Russian orthodox 
church and a Greek orthodox church. I kind of had some spiritual experiences 
more than anything, but a lot of it was transcended by the language barrier. I 
wasn't quite understanding what was being said, and what was being done. So, it 
was kind of the unspoken language that connected me to the feeling of being in 
these churches. I can see how that would transcend to like say a Guatemalan 
coming over here and watching a baseball game or baseball stadium - not 
understanding quite what's going on, but just feeling the vibrations of the park, of 
the game, of the people. It could be very powerful; you could have a cultural 
experience by just being, tasting, touching, hearing... That's what I got from 
those cultural experiences, that even if you are uncomfortable, or if you're not 
aware of a language or a medium of some sort, there are still benefits of an 
experience, and that's what I got from that more than anything. 

While four of the participants expressed feeling powerful emotions as a result of 
their cultural field assignment experience, Erik and Jennifer expressed feelings of 
skepticism about its impact. For Erik, he explained that the experience felt superficial to 
him since he already lived abroad and lived that experience on his own for several years. 



I think I would get more out of <additional time in classrooms> than, no offense, 
"Go observe a service in foreign language." Fve lived in foreign countries. Fve 
lived there. I know what it's like to be in the middle of nowhere and not really 
get it. Fve got that down. Fve got confused in another country down. I get that 
at home, when my wife is mad. . .Yeah, Fm living it... Fve got that down, so I 
would rather see more class time. 

67 



While Jennifer did not have extensive experience living abroad, she described 
skepticism about how this experience could translate into an understanding of the 
experiences of ELLs. Based on what she discussed in our interview, it appeared as though 
she found the experience valuable on a personal level, but that it did not accurately reflect 
the true feelings of what it would be like to be an ELL. 

That's obviously a little more difficult to find an area that you can jump into a 
language that's not your language. But then, the problem with that, of course, is 
that when you go to those places, generally those people all speak English. It was 
good, but you don't get the true feeling of being foreign. Or a couple of you can 
speak to each other, and the people around you can't speak with you at all, which 
is what you know ESLs are feeling when they walk into a classroom and the 
teacher is like "I don't understand your language," and the classmates are like, "I 
don't know what you're saying." ... it was a great experience, but you can feel 
how different it is emotionally, you're like, "that's nothing like what they're 
going through," but they have a bigger challenge. 

The requirement for field assignment three was that each TC was to conduct an 
observation of an ESL class as well as an interview with the ESL teacher. For those who 
observed high quality instruction the experience was a great learning opportunity. For 
Erik, it was the experience that made the greatest impact on him during the semester. 

I got a lot out of that. I got more out of that than I did in the rest of the class . ... It 
also motivates you, too. It really fires you up. Well, for me anyway. When you 
see the kids and you see how they're doing it makes me want to dive in and help, 
you know? 

Patricia used what she was learning in class about sheltered content instruction 
and used it as a tool for analyzing her observation. "I gained a lot from that last 
observation that I did. I really tried to apply the components of the SIOP model to 
analyze that lesson plan, and I got a lot out of it by doing it that way." 



68 



For Jennifer, this experience appeared to be the most positive one for her. 
However, she also mentioned that what she learned from her interview made her think 
about how much work goes into educating ELLs. "That was just, it was amazing to me 
how elaborate it is. I was like, 'Wow, that's a whole lot of work.' That was a great eye- 
opening experience... I felt that was an extreme learning experience." 

Journals and reflections. Three journals were required of all TCs during the 
semester: one at the beginning, one at the middle and one at the end of the course. In the 
final weeks of the semester the TCs were asked to compile all of their journals into one 
final reflection paper that summarized their experience overall. According to the activity 
impact questionnaires, the TCs reported that the journals and final reflection paper made 
an impact on them. It is interesting to note, though, that the journals did not average out 
to a score of 4.0 or higher at the mid-term activity impact questionnaire. It was not until 
the end of semester questionnaire that their reported impact increased, which was also the 
same time they completed their final reflections. 

The topics of journal entries and the final reflection paper did not come up very 

often in interviews. Patricia was one of very few who explicitly mentioned her feelings 

about journaling and reflecting. She was the one who mentioned that for the second field 

assignment her greatest epiphanies came out of the reflection and writing of the reflection 

about the experience. She also mentioned that along with the field assignments, she was 

getting the most benefit from the journals. Jennifer, too, indicated that writing reflections 

of her experiences enhanced her learning. She discussed the final reflection paper in our 

final interview. "I don't mind the reflection paper because it does help you look back at 

what you're doing." She mentioned that her journal allowed her to see that she did in fact 

69 



learn something from the course. "Really through a little bit of the reflecting on my 
journal, I was like, 'Oh yeah, that's right, we did learn some of that stuff" 

Textbook: Sheltered content instruction (Echevarria & Graves, 2010). There were 
two textbooks required for the course (Echevarria & Graves, 2010; Lightbown & Spada, 
2006) and several articles , readings and internet links. When I asked participants about 
their reactions to the readings, a common response was that they had a difficult time 
keeping all of them straight and therefore could not remember exactly what they had 
read. Erik admitted, "Honestly, I have trouble sometimes keeping the other class reading 
separate from the ESL readings." He was not alone. Jennifer had similar issues. "When 
you're taking another course. . .You start blending the... You're like, 'wait a minute, 
didn't I read that in here?'" 

One of the textbooks (Echevarria & Graves, 2010), resulted in a score of 4.04 at 
the mid- semester activity impact questionnaire, which made the list of course activities 
that made the greatest reported impact. It is important to note, though, that the score for 
that same textbook did not make a score of 4.0 or higher at the end of semester 
questionnaire. This would suggest that the overall reactions to the text shifted somewhat 
from the middle to the end of the course. However, several students did cite that textbook 
as useful. Patricia, for example said, "Readings were good. I liked the Sheltered Content 
Instruction book probably, because I am so focused on, 'What can I do in my classroom, 
now?' . . .The SCI book, I was like, 'This has great stuff in it. This is really, really useful 
to me.' So, I appreciated the SCI book a lot." Steven also had positive comments about 
it. "I really like that Sheltered Content Instruction textbook. It's really concise with the 

70 



ideas. It gives you general ideas, and then it kind of expounds on them a little further, but 
it doesn't do it in a sense that kind of bores you." 

ESL for Educators' Ability to Prepare TCs to Teach ELLs 

In looking at the ESL for Educators course overall with the various course 
activities, practices and processes, TCs were asked to rate the course's ability to prepare 
them to teach and/or work with ELLs. The results were somewhat split. Jennifer and 
Steven indicated that the course prepared them very little or only a little. Sofia and Erik 
reported that they felt the course prepared them well, and Kathy and Patricia reported that 
they felt the course prepared them very well. Since Kathy and Patricia were the two that 
were teaching during the semester they took ESL for Educators, this result highlights 
again the importance of having a relevant context to apply what one is learning. 

Summary of Course Activity Impact 

I would conclude based on the comments from the assignment write-ups and 
interviews that the field assignments overall made the greatest perceived impact on the 
participants. The topic of field assignments emerged more than any other course activity. 
The journals and final reflections along with the sheltered content instruction textbook 
(Echevarria & Graves, 2010) also made a greater reported impact on the TCs than other 
course activities. 

Finding Four 
Confidence with Online Learning 

Based on the results of the background questionnaire, the participants were split 
50/50 in their reported confidence with the online learning environment. At the beginning 

71 



of the semester Jennifer, Steven and Erik rated themselves on the lower end of the 
spectrum (ones and twos), indicating they had little confidence or comfort with the online 
learning environment; whereas the other three: Sofia, Kathy and Patricia rated themselves 
on the higher end of the spectrum (fours and fives), indicating that they were quite 
confident and/or comfortable with the online learning environment. 

At the end of the semester the TCs completed a follow-up to the background 
questionnaire where they re-assessed and reported their level of confidence or comfort 
with the online learning environment. Those who reported a high level of confidence at 
the beginning (Sofia, Kathy, and Patricia) remained steady in their confidence, remaining 
at a four or a five out of five. As figure 4.4 illustrates, the remaining three participants 
indicated a change in their level of confidence. Jennifer and Erik reported a slight 
increase in their confidence while Steven reported a decrease in his confidence. He went 
from a one to a zero (no confidence), which is why there is no visible bar representing his 
end of semester report. Steven said, "I don't think online's for me 'cause I'm one of those 
people that I want to be around people and have feedback and listen to what's being said, 
state my own opinions, things like that." He predicted from the beginning, "I don't feel 
like it's gonna be what I'm looking for." 



72 





I Beginning of Semester 
I End of Semester 



Sofia Kathy Jennifer Patricia Steven Erik 



Figure 4.4 Reported Level of Confidence/Comfort Level with Online Learning: 
Beginning and End of Semester 



In addition to their level of confidence in online learning, TCs were asked 
whether or not they would take ESL for Educators online or on campus if given the 
choice to take it again. The results showed them split half and half. Kathy, Jennifer and 
Patricia said they would take it again online while Sofia, Steven and Erik expressed a 
desire to take it on campus. 

For some, online was the only way they could take the class. Jennifer expressed 
that this format was more convenient. "I wouldn't be able to do a class or at least not as 
easily. It would be more of a strain. All my complaints about it it's to say I do like it and 
I'm glad that I have it." Patricia also indicated that this was the only format that would 
work for her. "The one thing that's great about online classes is that I'm able to take a 



73 



class and work. So, I really, really appreciate it for that. I wouldn't be able to do it if it 
wasn't that way." 

Online Participation 

A requirement of the course in addition to the field assignments, readings, 
journals, and reflections was participation in online weekly threaded discussions. Each 
person was required to post an initial response to the weekly prompt from the instructor 
by Thursday evening and then respond to at least two colleagues by Monday evening. 
While it was beyond the scope of this study to analyze each individual online discussion 
post, I calculated the number of weeks out of 16 that each TC participated in order to get 
a sense of each participant's level of participation in online discussions (see figure 4.5). 

Kathy and Jennifer engaged in the online discussions every week, followed 
closely by Eva, the instructor, who only missed one week. Patricia contributed to the 
discussions 14 out of the 16 weeks followed by Sofia who participated in 12 out of the 16 
discussions. Steven participated in eight of the weekly discussions whereas Erik only 
contributed to two of the weekly discussions, the least amount of participation across the 
six participants. 



74 



Number of Weeks Participated 




i& n<A .«*► .$> 




I Number of Weeks Participated 



Figure 4.5 Online Participation: Number of Weeks Participated 



In addition to looking at the number of weeks in which each TC participated, I 
calculated the number of total posts each participant contributed, including the number of 
on time posts and the number of late posts. As shown in figure 4.6 Eva, the instructor, 
contributed the greatest number of posts overall as well as the greatest number of late 
posts. 75% of Eva's contributions to the weekly discussions were late. Sofia, Kathy and 
Patricia submitted only on time posts. Jennifer contributed only one late post and the rest 
were on time. Erik contributed a total of only three posts, each of which was late. Steven 
contributed a greater number of overall posts than Erik and Sofia, but his late posts 
outweighed his on time posts 21 to 12. 



The results show that Sofia, Kathy, Patricia, and Jennifer consistently 

participated, which could mean that they were more engaged or that they were more 

conscientious about fulfilling the requirements and getting the points. Steven and Erik did 

75 



not actively participate and appeared less engaged. There is no way to know how often 
they were reading the discussions, but only how often they contributed to them. Steven 
and Erik did not fulfill the requirements of the online discussions as assigned and 
therefore, did not earn the points, which negatively impacted their grades. Eva 
contributed many posts, but did not engage with the students in a timely manner, which 
resulted in a lack of TC benefit. By posting late and denying them her expertise, the 
instructor missed opportunities to better reach the TCs in their zones of proximal 
development. 



120 



100 



80 



60 



40 



20 



t 




<& x& .i& .& 




I Number of total posts 
i Number of on-time posts 
Number of late posts 



Figure 4.6 Online Participation: Number of Discussion Posts Over 16 Weeks (Total 
Posts, On Time Posts, and Late Posts) 



After I calculated each participant's contributions to the weekly threaded 
discussions, I looked at the total number of views per post to see how often each post was 
being viewed. I averaged the totals for student on time posts, student late posts, instructor 



76 



on time posts, and instructor late posts. Figure 4.7 illustrates that student posts were being 
viewed more often than instructor posts and figure 4.8 shows that on time posts were 
being viewed more often than late posts. On average, the number of total views declined 
as the semester went on and contributions to the discussions made earlier in any given 
week were being viewed more often than posts submitted later in the week or late. 




6 

4 

2 



V -£a : 



Avg views of student 
posts 

Avg views of instructor 
posts 



- 1 — i 1 1 — i 1 1 1 — i 1 1 — i 1 1 1 — i 

^H(Ncox|-i/->'OC--ooaNO^H<Ncoxf-invo 

>■>•>•>•>•>■>■>■>• <u <u u u u u <u 



Figure 4.7 Average Views of Posts (does not include views by researcher) 



77 



16 
14 
12 
10 




• Avg views of on time 
posts 

■Avg views of late posts 



- 1 1 1 1 1 — i 1 1 1 1 1 1 — i 1 1 1 

r-n(Ncox|-invot--ooaNO^H<Ncox|-in , -o 

>•>•>•>•>•>•>•>•>• u u <u <u ^ ^ ^ 



Figure 4.8 Average Views of On-Time Posts versus Late Posts (does not include 
views by researcher) 

Discussions of the Online Learning Environment 

The online learning environment emerged as one of the most common themes in 
interviews. TCs referenced prior online courses, their current online ESL for Educators 
course, and also online courses in general. The nature of the comments was varied, but 
the negative comments outweighed the other types of comments as shown in figure 4.9. 
This suggests that the experience of online learning for this group of TCs was more 
negative than positive. The variation in responses showed that the online learning 
environment had many challenges and limitations. However, there were reported benefits 
of online learning as well. 



78 



60 



50 



40 



30 



20 



10 






I Positive 

I Negative 

Neutral 



Online in general Prior online course Current online course 



Figure 4.9 Frequency of Interview Statements about Online Learning 

Reported Benefits of Online Learning 

Convenience, flexibility and pacing. The benefits of the online learning 
experience the TCs mentioned most often included convenience (e.g. not having to find a 
place to park on campus) and flexibility (e.g. being able to do class work at any time 
from any location). Jennifer, for example, also mentioned the ability to pace herself as a 
benefit. "I mean the benefits of having it online are certainly that you can pace yourself, 
you can look at it when you have time to look at it. I do like that. . . And so certainly it's 
great for me." 

Online discussions. The online discussions received mixed reviews. For some of 
the TCs it was a benefit of the course. Kathy, in particular, found them helpful. "I've 
learned a lot from the online discussions. I like them, definitely. I think that they are 
definitely a positive part of the course." 



79 



Reported Challenges of Online Learning 

Pacing and routine. While Jennifer saw the ability to pace herself as a benefit, 
others struggled with the pacing aspect of the online environment. Several participants 
mentioned that they had a difficult time getting into a routine and keeping up with the 
discussions. Steven told me about his struggles with not having anyone to keep him on 
track. 

This is where I get in trouble in discussion questions, just remembering to do 
them by a certain time, which isn't hard at all. It's just online there's not anybody 
kicking you in the butt to do this stuff, so it's kind of the mentality a little bit to 
put things off. So you have to battle that. 

Steven attributed part of this difficulty to the online environment. "Online inherently 
builds in the least of effort. That's just my opinion." 

Sofia expressed similar sentiments and felt that the flexibility of the online 
learning environment made it difficult for her to keep up with the work. "It's been a little 
tough just in general to keep up with the responding to the posts and such. . .when I'm 
really not feeling like doing anything, I really don't do anything." Erik agreed when he 
said, "You only look at your course stuff maybe twice, maybe three times a week; for 
some people I think it's easy to forget." 

One explanation the TCs gave about the difficulty of staying on track was a lack 

of familiarity with the online learning environment. For most this was their first or one of 

their first online courses. As Steven mentioned, "that's what is concerning me is I'm not 

able to find a routine, to be productive, and to learn and to share with the other members 

of the classroom. And it's probably because I'm not used to online classes." Sofia, too, 

indicated that she was not yet in a routine. "I only started taking online classes in the 

80 



summer, so it's not like a habit for me yet." Erik also expressed a sense of confusion due 
to the fact that he was not used to this type of learning. "So it's a little confusing, but this 
is the first time I've taken online classes. I'm sure once I start getting used to it, it gets a 
little bit better." 

Online discussions. While Kathy indicated that she found the online discussions 
beneficial, the other TCs expressed the opposite. Jennifer, for example, explained, "It's 
just kind of an odd. . .1 don't always feel like what I'm reading is beneficial to my 
learning." Patricia described that to her the online discussions seemed like "busy work," 
were a bit repetitive and not very beneficial. 

In the class it's been, like I feel like some of the discussions have been kind of 
repetitive. You know what I mean? A lot of people will say sort of the same 
thing, and so it gets kind of dry and not very challenging. So, I would say that the 
discussions have been just, I don't know, I haven't obtained a lot from them. 

Steven raised the issue of whether or not others were even reading the posts. "A 
lot of times, I'd read through those discussions, and it didn't seem like anybody was 
paying attention to what anybody else was saying. It was just people going on and on." 
The appearance that people were not paying attention to what others were saying was a 
legitimate concern based on the limited number of views per post (see figure 4.7). Sofia 
admitted that in fact she was not always taking in what she read. "You know, online, I'm 
not absorbing anything." This is useful in reminding instructors that people learn 
differently and not all adult learners can learn effectively through reading. We need to 
find ways to address the varied ways of learning and knowing. 



81 



Reported Limitations of Online Learning 

The most common limitations of the online environment as reported by the TCs 
included lack of personal connection, the inability to distinguish one person from another, 
and the limitations of typing thoughts versus verbalizing them. Sofia admitted that she 
relies a lot on "looking at people's faces," something on which she could not rely in this 
type of environment. And Steven discussed the issue of typing. "You know I can say in 
10 minutes the amount of things in the same time that I could type, and I just forget all of 
the typing. You know I forget all the words when I'm typing it kind of thing." While 
many of the TCs and the instructor indicated that at times they had a difficult time 
keeping everyone and everything they said straight, Eva's thoughts are representative of 
many. "As you're reading through and responding to the different ideas, you don't 
always remember exactly who did say what." 

Several of the study participants gave ideas for how to address the limitations of 
the online environment. Suggestions included finding a way to incorporate voice or video 
into the discussions or at least for the introductions. A couple of the TCs mentioned the 
idea of using web chats. Others, the instructor included, brought up the idea of 
incorporating phone calls and yet others indicated an interest in meeting face-to-face. 
However, university regulations state that face-to-face meetings cannot be arranged for 
online courses, but must remain optional. 

Instructor feedback on discussion posts. Early in the semester, the majority of the 

TCs reported being satisfied with the amount of instructor feedback and participation. 

Some comments included, "<Eva> responded back to everybody this last week with 

really in-depth observations and comments. I think that was extremely helpful." "I think 

82 



it's nice to get feedback, especially you know occasionally, on your discussion post, 
because you aren't sure if you're anywhere close." However, as the semester went on, the 
comments shifted slightly. Several TCs discussed that while they understood that the 
instructor was busy, the late postings lessened their estimations of effectiveness of the 
feedback. The instructor was limited by factors outside of the environment in making 
timely feedback. Timely feedback appeared to be an expectation of the teacher candidates 
enrolled in the course. One TC said, 

I feel like it's good if it's done within the week of discussion. So like, if it's done 
after the discussion week is over, it's hard for me to go back and you know work 
on this week's discussion and then go back and check the previous week's 
discussion and really think about that when I'm trying to focus on this week. So, 
as long as the responses are within the week that is being discussed, and I'm sure 
that's really difficult. 

And another stated, 

She was like two or three weeks behind at one point, and it's really tough to like, 
well, to stay motivated and do something when that's the case, and it's also tough 
to make, to not get behind, because you don't understand something, and then it's 
like a couple weeks later, she gets back to it, but you're already kind of past that, 
and you're trying to focus on that stuff, and it's kind of tough. But I know 
everybody has their lives, too! 

While there were benefits, challenges and limitations of the online learning 
environment, Jennifer summed it up with her concluding thought. "It's part of the world 
today and it's one of the changing environments of education. . .we have to deal with it I 
guess. And learn that technology." 

Conclusion of Results 
The results of the study presented in this chapter offer insights into how this 
particular group of teacher candidates experienced the online ESL for Educators course. 



83 



They entered the course with unique backgrounds and experiences with other cultures 
and a wide range of understandings, beliefs and attitudes about linguistic diversity. They 
reported varying degrees of confidence with teaching ELLs at the beginning of the 
course, which was influenced by their prior experiences with diversity. 

Throughout the semester each of the participants changed in some way as a result 
of their participation in the course. It was evident that all six of the TCs developed new 
understandings about the education of ELLs which impacted their confidence and interest 
in working with ELLs in the future. The ESL for Educators course appeared to challenge 
some of the TCs' prior assumptions about the local population of ELLs as well as how to 
effectively reach that group of students. Two of the participants, Kathy and Patricia, who 
were teaching ELLs at the time of the study, reported evidence of change in their 
teaching practice which resulted in positive academic growth of their students. 

The course activities that appeared to make the greatest impact on their learning 
according to the TCs were the three field assignments (ESL directors' panel discussion, 
cultural experience, and ESL classroom observation and interview). Other activities and 
practices that they indicated made a positive impact on them were the journals, final 
reflection paper, and the textbook on sheltered content instruction. 

Results of the analysis of the online learning environment highlighted the 
challenges and limitations of this particular online course and online learning in general. 
There were few reported benefits of the online learning environment cited by the TCs. 
Most commonly mentioned were convenience and flexibility. Convenience and flexibility 
do not equate to effective learning or professional preparation, however. The participants 

84 



were not all actively contributing to the online discussions and the instructor was unable 
to provide timely feedback, which appeared to be an expectation of the TCs. The greatest 
challenges and limitations reported were: lack of connection, keeping up with the work, 
finding a routine, participating in superficial and repetitive discussions, fear of 
miscommunication, lack of instructor feedback, and limitations of typing versus 
verbalizing thoughts. The negative ways in which the participants reacted to the online 
environment provided evidence to support the argument that the way the online course 
was designed was not conducive to transformational learning experiences. We need to 
find ways to address those challenges and limitations. Many people take courses online 
because their schedules do not allow them to take courses on campus. Therefore, if this is 
to be their only medium of instruction, it must be revised to be more effective at fostering 
adult learning and development. 

Overall, the results of the study reveal that there were positive aspects of the 
course that contributed to increased knowledge and strategies of ESL education, new 
understandings about linguistic diversity and the local ELL population, shifts in thinking 
about ELLs, shifts in thinking about themselves as educators of ELLs, and evidence of 
success when applied in practice. However, there were also limitations of the course that 
led to some of the participants feeling confused, nervous, overwhelmed, and unprepared 
to teach ELLs. I will discuss the implications of these results on course design in Chapter 
6. In Chapter 5 I will present an in-depth description of each participant and their course 
experiences. 



85 



CHAPTER 5 
PORTRAITS: NARRATIVES OF STUDY PARTICIPANTS 

Chapter 4 presented the major findings of the research study for the six 
participants drawing from both the quantitative and qualitative data. With the small 
sample, however, it is not feasible to draw generalizable conclusions from the aggregate 
data presented. The strength of this study lies in the stories of the individual participants 
and their experiences throughout their semester in the ESL for Educators course. The 
content was the same for everyone, but the individuals' experiences were as unique as the 
individuals themselves. 

In this chapter I will describe in detail each participant, their backgrounds, 
teaching experience, beliefs and understandings about linguistic diversity, reported 
changes as a result of their course participation, and specific reactions to course activities. 
In addition, I draw heavily on interview data to address instances that may reveal 
tendencies towards particular epistemologies (ways of knowing), sources of authority, 
senses of self (identity), transitions, and/or subject/object stances, which will be unique 
for each individual. 

The voices of the participants are rich and revealing as well as an integral part of 
my own experiences of discovery about how each adult learner experienced this course 
differently and what that tells us about course design. The in-depth descriptions are 
presented as follows: Sofia, Kathy, Jennifer, Patricia, Steven, Erik, and Eva, the 
instructor. 



86 



Sofia 
Background 

Sofia was a single mom of one young child. We met in person for all three 
interviews and I found her to be very open, warm, and friendly. During the time of the 
study Sofia was in her late 20 's and was enrolled in the alternative licensure program 
(ALP) for secondary math education; however she was considering switching to the 
teacher education and licensure program (TELP). She earned her B.S. in mechanical 
engineering in 2003 and recently completed her M.S. (201 1) from the same university in 
mechanical engineering, with an emphasis in dynamic systems and controls. Sofia 
professed a love of learning and admitted that she would stay in school forever if 
someone would pay her to do so. 

Sofia comes from a multicultural background. Her mother is third generation 
Mexican- American and her father is half Japanese and part Native American. Growing 
up, she heard her mom speaking Spanish and her dad speaking Japanese and Arabic, due 
to his job in the Air Force, but they spoke to Sofia strictly in English. When Sofia asked 
her mom why she did not speak to her in Spanish growing up, her mom told her that there 
were two reasons: first, because she did not feel as though she spoke "real Spanish" due 
to her lack of familiarity with certain words; and second because she did not want Sofia 
or her sister to speak English with Spanish accents. Sofia felt it was unfortunate because 
she did not feel that she had a good accent when she spoke in Spanish. 

Sofia was born in Athens, Greece and attended eight different schools from 

kindergarten through twelfth grade, most of which were suburban and predominantly 

white. The schools she attended from fifth through seventh grades she described as a bit 

87 



more diverse, with a mix of white, Hispanic, Asian, Filipino, and Black students. Sofia 
attributed this increase in diversity to the fact that she attended a school off base. Seventh 
through tenth grades were spent in England, which appeared to make a great impact on 
Sofia. She enjoyed living there and was amazed by the cultural differences between the 
U.S. and England. "It's amazing how we speak the same language, but things were so 
completely different there." She also spoke about how she appreciated the way in which 
the people in England thought and viewed the world and how her time there continues to 
impact her today. "I think that living there had a lot to do with the way that I see things 
now." 

Despite her multicultural and multilingual family upbringing, Sofia considered 
herself 'one of the white kids' because that was the typical population of kids with whom 
she went to school. "My dad became an officer so we were around mostly other white 
kids. I say 'other' . . .I'm not white (laughs) but you know I think that's how I kind of 
think of myself in my head because I think I'm just American. . .white American because 
that's what I grew up around." 

Because Sofia and her family moved around a lot due to her dad's job in the 
military, she said she did not spend a lot of time with either side of the family growing 
up. "I didn't get exposed to the <Mexican-American> culture as much as I would say my 
cousins that have lived there their whole lives." And with respect to her father's Japanese 
culture she continued to say, "I have cousins on my dad's side who experienced a little 
bit more of the Japanese culture because they lived with my dad's mom." 



88 



In addition to living in a variety of places growing up, Sofia mentioned that she 
had done some additional traveling recently. In her background questionnaire she wrote, 
"I have travelled to Mexico multiple times in the last 5 years, to Baja California, the 
Yucatan, and the Pacific coast. Most of the time spent was in Baja, and all trips were for 
a maximum of a week at a time." 

Teaching Experience 

As for teaching experience, Sofia rated herself as a novice. She had been working 
since 2005 as a contract engineer, but had some experience both teaching and tutoring. 
She taught one university course, an introduction to engineering course, and has tutored 
students in math and mechanical engineering (both high school and university students). 
The semester prior to the study she started working as a teaching assistant for an 
engineering analysis course where she graded papers and held supplementary instruction 
sessions for students twice a week. Sofia described her tutoring experiences as fun and 
beneficial. "I had a lot of fun last year doing it; so I figured I'd like to do it this year 
again. . .1 think it's good for me. . .it helps me maintain my math and it also helps me try 
and figure out how to explain things." 

When asked on her background questionnaire about her experience in working 
with culturally and linguistically diverse learners, Sofia rated her confidence as very low. 
She wrote, "I have essentially no experience working with diverse learners. Pretty much 
every student I've worked with has been white and middle class." She also indicated that 
she had no prior training. Lack of training combined with lack of experience likely 
contributed to her low level of confidence. 



89 



Beliefs and Understandings about Linguistic Diversity 

While Sofia rated her confidence to teach CLD learners as low, she did rate her 
interest in working with them much higher (four out of five). She wrote on her 
background questionnaire, 

Although I'm sure it's not a popular opinion nowadays, I still feel like America is 
a place for people from everywhere to come to seek out better opportunities for 
themselves and their families. This means that we as teachers need to be able to 
provide the best learning environment for all students, regardless of their country 
of origin and native language. 

In addition to her expressed interest in working with ELLs, Sofia also showed a 
great interest in other languages. She considered herself to have an ease with languages 
like her father. She took five years of Spanish in school, one semester of French, and 
helped a college boyfriend with German, even though she never took a German class 
herself. During the semester of the study, Sofia enrolled in an additional Spanish class. 
She admitted that she was also interested in taking Russian, among other languages, but 
has not yet done so. 

If it were possible, Sofia thought it would be "cool" to learn every language that 
her future ELLs may speak. Not only did Sofia show an interest and appreciation for 
diverse languages, she also argued that every person in the U.S. should be required to 
take another language. She came into the course feeling that way and left the course 
feeling the same way. "I do think it's important to make everybody take another language 
at some point, more than whatever nonsense they require, because I think it's good for 
your brain." 



90 



Not surprisingly given Sofia's background and experiences, Sofia's scores on the 
beginning of the semester Language Attitudes of Teachers Scale (LATS) revealed that 
she was quite tolerant of linguistic diversity. However, on the Knowledge of ELL Issues 
Survey she reported having very little knowledge of ELL issues. In her initial journal 
entry she wrote, "My current understanding of English Language Learners is essentially 
nil. I know they exist, but have no experience working with them." Possibly due to her 
lack of training and experience coupled with her perceived lack of knowledge, Sofia 
communicated at the beginning of the semester that she felt very overwhelmed, nervous 
and intimidated at the thought of teaching ELLs. Some of her feelings changed through 
her participation in the course, though, as I will discuss in the next section. 

Reported Changes as a Result of Course Participation 

Reflecting over the semester, Sofia reported that while she did not believe her 
core ideas and thinking changed significantly, she gained confidence as a result of her 
participation in the course. In her final journal entry she wrote, "The exposure I've gained 
through this class has helped me feel more comfortable, although I am still a little 
anxious. I feel like I still need to know more. I want to learn more." And in her final 
discussion post she said, "I am looking forward to getting into the classroom a little more 
now. I honestly was a little scared at the beginning of this class, but I feel much more 
confident now!" In fact, when asked to rate her level of confidence and ability in teaching 
ELLs, she rated herself at a one out of five at the beginning of the course which jumped 
to a four out of five at the end of the course. 

One of the reasons for this reported increase in confidence may be due to Sofia's 

perceived gain in content knowledge. She assessed herself at 12 points out of 50 on the 

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Knowledge of ELL Issues Survey at the beginning of the semester and then 38 points out 
of 50 at the end of the semester. She appeared relieved to have learned that effective 
strategies for teaching ELLs can benefit all students. In her final reflection paper she 
wrote in response to her feelings of being overwhelmed, "But it did seem like there was 
one saving grace: many of the adaptations and modifications I would use for ELLs would 
equally benefit all students." She stated this again in one of her final discussion posts and 
indicated that this might be the most important thing she learned in the class. 

Isn't it great that if you know how to teach ELLs, you can basically teach all 
students? This makes me so much more comfortable! I was freaking out a little bit 
at the beginning of the semester because I thought that it was going to be so 
difficult to add another group that needed special differentiation. But it was quite 
revealing to find that what we do to help ELLs will benefit other students 
too. . .This might be the most important thing I learned in this class. 

Sofia reported having gained a considerable amount of knowledge and 
confidence, but asserted that her core thinking had not changed. The results of her LATS 
survey are consistent with that assertion. She only changed by one point on the LATS 
from the beginning of the semester to the end. I would conclude that Sofia gained 
informational knowledge, but did not experience transformational shifts in thinking 
during the semester. I will describe in further detail her responses and reactions to the 
various course activities and educational processes that contributed to her learning and 
thinking. 

Specific Reactions to Course Activities 

During our mid-semester and end-semester interviews, Sofia talked to me about 
her engagement in the course activities and her reactions to them. I pull from those 



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conversations as well as her assignment write-ups and reflections to paint a picture of the 
types of activities that appeared to have the greatest impact on her. 

Sofia mentioned on multiple occasions that the first field assignment, watching 
the panel discussion of local ESL directors, made the greatest impression on her because 
the information presented was very new to her. She expressed being surprised due to her 
prior lack of exposure to ELLs and therefore she felt that she learned a lot about the ELLs 
that she may be teaching in the future. In her write-up about the panel discussion she 
wrote, "The main takeaways that I got were 1) content needs to be accessible to all 
students, 2) English proficiency testing takes a long time, and 3) the ELL population is 
the fastest growing student population." 

At one point in her first field assignment write-up and at one point in her mid- 
semester interview she hinted at being interested in possibly considering working as an 
ESL teacher in the future because of the great need that exists in our community, which 
she learned about from watching the panel discussion video. In her assignment reflection 
she wrote, "That is a lot of students for not a lot of teachers. It's inspiring. I'd always 
thought I wanted to teach math or pre-engineering, but knowing that there are so many 
kids out there with such great needs. . .1 might have a change of heart." In her mid- 
semester interview she said in reference to teaching ESL, "I think it'd be a really tough 
area to be in, but I think it would also be really. . .it'd be good for me, and it would be. . .to 
be able to help people who need even more help." 

I had to take Sofia's interest in being an ESL teacher with a grain of salt, though. 
She admitted on several occasions that because she loves to learn so much she is easily 

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swayed in new and different directions. She told me in that same interview that, "It's like 
whatever I'm reading, that's what I want to do." 

Before embarking on the journey of the second field assignment, the cultural field 
experience, Sofia described feeling both excited and nervous about attending an Arabic 
service at a local Islamic mosque. She admitted that she would not have sought out this 
kind of experience on her own, but she was thankful for the opportunity and glad she did 
it. 

Well, I think that going to the mosque, too, was pretty important. I mean it was 
really cool. I was somewhere where I had never been before, didn't know the 
culture, well a little bit because of my dad, but I went there and the guy made me 
feel really comfortable. I mean there were some uncomfortable parts of it, but that 
wasn't related to the speaker. It was just, we're in this room, and these guys are 
taking their shoes off, putting them on, and just like kind of staring, and it's like 
maybe I should have put the veil over my head. I'd say that that one impacted me, 
too. 

When I asked her about what she found most powerful about that experience, she 
described the religious aspect. 

I think it was actually the religious part about it, which is kind of weird to me. It 
was very strong. I'm not a terribly religious person, so to kind of get that feeling, 
it was really cool. And it's pretty cool because it's the same feeling you get going 
to the church. It's the same thing. 

Since one of the purposes of the assignment was to venture outside of one's 
comfort zone, Sofia wrote in her reflection that she felt as though for her, that purpose 
was not fully met because of the positive experience she had. "I enjoyed the event and 
was surprised at how comforting it was. I feel like I didn't get the experience I was 
supposed to." Part of the powerful impact for Sofia was the emotion that it invoked in 
her. "I was emotionally and spiritually moved by it, even though I didn't understand 



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everything that was going on." She described getting "goose bumps" and unexpectedly 
getting teary-eyed. "I felt very moved. . .So I didn't understand what was going on, but I 
felt a huge rush of emotion and felt tears again in my eyes." She continued to write, 

During my experience in this field assignment, it has become more cemented in 
my brain that we are all the same. Regardless of from where a person comes, what 
religion they practice, and what their personal views of the world are, we are all 
the same. We want to make our livings, have our families, and love our Gods in 
peace. 

While her time at the mosque appeared to be a positive one and resulted in a 
powerful emotional reaction from Sofia, she expressed feeling as though the experience 
did not help her to understand the experience of ELLs. To conclude her write- 
up/reflection, she wrote, 

Due to my experience, I feel that I will need to find another means to understand 
the experience of ELs in our society. I think that a religious service is probably 
not the way for me to go. Perhaps I could go to a language class, like a Japanese 
class or a Russian class. Or I could try to visit areas of town where I am 
unfamiliar with the language. What I'd really like to be able to do is go to another 
country and just try getting around without the language. I think that might be the 
most comparable experience. However, that would take funding and time that I do 
not currently possess. But some day, hopefully soon, I will be able to do just that. 

The third and final field assignment, the ESL class observation and interview, also 
invoked emotions in Sofia. She commented in our final interview that she was moved by 
the experience and the manner in which the students interacted with one another in the 
class she observed. She talked about how the students seemed like a family and that 
reminded her of her own family. 

So when I went on field assignment three I visited the ESL class there and it was 
really cool. The teacher was just really nice, and she was just so good. I felt really 
comfortable with her. I watched two classes. The first class was the NEP class, 
and even though we had a couple of girls over here that spoke the same language 
and a couple over here, they were kind of still, even though they didn't all speak 

95 



the same language, one of them didn't speak any English at all, they seemed kind 
of like a family. Then, when I went to the LEP class, it was like even more so. . .It 
was kind of funny because they kind of reminded me of my sisters and me, you 
know, because we'd work together a little bit, but just one of us would go crazy, 
and go, because I think one of the kids was like, "Ahh!" I don't even know what 
for, and then they were just working okay together again. Maybe that's just how 
kids are... It's just kind of the feeling that I got when I was sitting in the class. 

In our final interview, Sofia reflected back on that experience at the high school 
with sadness. 

I think part of it was going to the high school and just actually seeing kids, 
because I'm not around kids all that much, and. . .they're little people. They're not 
little. . .actually most of them are bigger than me. How many of these kids go 
home and don't have anybody there with them? Because my mom was always 
there, and I know it's not possible for everybody, but then I get started thinking 
about that stuff, and I just get sad. . Just being around them, it's like you 
can. . . .maybe it's just because kids don't like to get dressed up to do anything. I 
don't know, but it's like some of these kids, it's like really, there's snow outside, 
and it's like, "Why are you dressed like that?" So I don't know if it's that their 
parents don't care, or their parents aren't there, or they don't have the clothes, or 
what. I don't know what it is... 

In her write-up of the third field assignment Sofia wrote, "This impacted me 
immensely. I now feel like this is something I can do." This was one experience that 
appeared to increase her confidence, but as I have indicated, her level of confidence 
fluctuated frequently. 

When I asked Sofia about the readings for the course her reactions were mixed. 
Not surprisingly, given her interest in languages, the readings that seemed to stand out to 
her involved the acquisition and learning of language (Lightbown & Spada, 2006). She 
was interested mostly because she could relate what she was reading to her own life. 



Well, it was interesting learning how we acquire English, and language. You 
know, kind of looking at my son and being like, "oh yeah, well he can do that, 
and he can do that, and oh no, he can't do that yet." And just kind of seeing, and 
thinking about how he's progressed. I think I know I read how second languages 

96 



are learned, but I can't think of anything right now. . .1 do like understanding that, 
you know, trying to figure it out. I think it will help me learn another language, 
too. You know understand how we actually acquire them. 

For the readings in general, though, Sofia indicated that she did not remember or 
retain what she read, possibly because she did not have personal experience or a context 
to which she could connect that informational knowledge. She told me in her final 
interview, 

Yeah, I need to talk. I need to listen. Reading, I don't tend to remember as much. I 
mean, I can remember where a word is on a page if it's a weird word, I can 
remember that. But other than that, I have to write, and talk, and listen. Reading 
doesn't do much for me. 

For Sofia, the three field assignments were the course activities that she reflected 
upon as having the most emotional and personal impact on her. Those feelings were 
corroborated by her responses to the course activity impact questionnaires as well. The 
readings with which she personally connected sparked an interest in her, and the 
combination of taking the ESL for Educators course along with the Spanish course 
caused her to gain a new perspective. "I think it's kind of neat to be able to take both of 
these at the same time and see how they kind of go together." In reference to her Spanish 
class, she told me, 

To me, it's not the same thing, because it's not a language I use every day, and it 
probably won't ever be a language I will use every day, and the expectations are 
different for my second language learning than it would be for somebody learning 
English here. I kind of just, it is interesting to think about how things work for 
them. 

When prompted to discuss aspects of the course overall that caused her to think 
differently about ELLs or teaching ELLs, Sofia's response was, 

I think it's been kind of a combination of things. I had never really thought about 
it before, so just getting the exposure to it. And then taking the Spanish class has 

97 



definitely been helping because I'm looking at it in a different way now. . .It's just 
making me think about things different, the ESL class and having the Spanish 
class both I think are probably the two biggest things that have affected how I 
think. 

What this reveals to me is that through her experiences Sofia was able to gain a 
new perspective and a sense of empathy for what ELLs might be experiencing. This was 
one of the driving goals of the course according to Eva, the instructor. She claimed that 
she hoped that to the extent possible, each teacher candidate would leave the course with 
an increased sense of efficacy and empathy. 

Sofia summed up her overall experience in our final interview as "good," but 
"tough." When I asked her what she felt made it so tough, she responded, "I think I was 
trying to understand it a little bit better, because I guess maybe it had more of a meaning 
for me. I'm not sure." 

Based on her interviews and other written data it was evident that her experiences 
went deeper than what might have originally appeared on the surface. Not only was Sofia 
engaged in the participation of field experiences and other course activities along with 
her Spanish class, but she was also engaged in a great deal of deep personal reflection 
which proved to influence her course experiences. 

Transition between Figured Worlds 

Much of Sofia's personal reflection came about as a result of a transition she was 
experiencing at the time of the study. It was clear to me that Sofia was struggling with her 
transition from the figured world of math and engineering to the figured world of 
education and teaching (Holland, Jr., Skinner, & Cain, 1998). 



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In our first interview Sofia revealed to me, "It's a completely different way of 
thinking, you know... teaching versus engineering. It's completely different and I think 
it's going to be tough. . .1 don't know if I'm ever gonna feel ready." Throughout the 
semester she referred to the differences in activities, processes and practices between 
math/engineering and education, such as the time commitment, role of textbooks and 
writing papers. "Before I started this program I had never read a textbook really, 
especially not front-to-back. . .1 thought you just bought them to sit on your shelf and to 
do problems out of." 

All my engineering courses seemed to require an awful lot more time to write all 
the papers. But, I'd never done a research paper really. I mean we'd look at some 
people's research, but most of what our papers were about were projects that we 
did; it's just project write-ups. So, I mean it was a totally different write up than 
I'm used to doing... 

In our final interview it was clear that Sofia continued to struggle with this 
transition. 

It's totally different. It requires a different type of thinking, and it's not as easy, 
definitely not as easy. It's all emotional and stuff (laughs). I mean it's all subject 
to one's opinion. I mean there is some science, but it's not all science. That's 
tough. 

She described feeling uncomfortable and out of her element with this new figured world 
of education. 

I am completely out of my element now, so I feel. . .I'm pretty uncomfortable 
because it's totally different. . .It's a lot more difficult, and it's a lot more 
emotionally trying, you know. I've cried more in the last six months since I've 
started the program. 

Struggles with Subject-Object Shifts 

The difficulty Sofia had with separating herself from the emotional aspects of her 

experiences revealed to me that shifting between figured worlds led her to struggle with 

99 



the shift from subject, emotions having control over her, to object, having control over 
her emotions (Kegan, 1994). With a few tears in her eyes, she talked to me about feeling 
sad and overwhelmed. She told me, "It just seems like it's going to be very tough. But 
I'm also like really weepy right now. . ." She admitted that her emotions were intensified 
that day, which may have contributed to her trouble making subject-object shifts. "I'm 
not really thinking about it right now, because I had such a stressful day already today. If 
I start thinking about it, I'll be like, 'Oh God, I can't do it! ' so I don't want to think about 
it today, because I know it will be bad." 

Challenging Assumptions and Sense of Self 

Sofia's transition between figured worlds played a key role in the types of 
changes and experiences she had during her participation in the ESL for Educators 
course. As part of her quest for understanding her new career path, Sofia challenged some 
of her previously-held assumptions about teaching. One of those assumptions concerned 
the amount of work and time commitment required to be a teacher. 

I didn't realize how much work it's going to be. 'Cause I just thought. . .1 
honestly. . . and this shows how naive I am. . . I just thought teachers just got up 
there and did what they did and then that was it they just went home and that's 
it... That's why I'm scared! 

In addition to challenging her assumptions about teaching in general, Sofia also 
challenged her assumptions about what it would entail to teach ELLs. 



I'm trying to figure it out because I'm not the most creative person in the world. 
It's like trying to make things more visual but still have the language be part of it, 
and I think that would be a challenge, and it's going to make me have to work a 
lot harder at planning, more than I thought. It's kind of, it almost feels a little 
overwhelming just the amount of thought that has to go into it, and how much 
work has to go into planning, and it's a little overwhelming. 



100 



Part of her fear may be explained by the fact that doing a good job was important 
to her. 

I am excited, but I wanna just do a good job, you know, 'cause I feel it's so 
important. I haven't had very many bad teachers. I know I've heard a lot of 
people say, 'Oh I've had really bad teachers' and I think that's what gives people 
this idea that teachers are lower than everybody else. But realistically they're not. 
They have 4-year degrees just like everybody else just like all the other 
professionals and. . .at least 4-year degrees ! 

In her comment above Sofia revealed an additional assumption she held that 
people tend to view teachers as lower than other professionals. It is possible that this 
comment stemmed from her personal transition between the engineering world and the 
education world. It is possible that she is afraid that when she becomes a teacher she may 
be seen as less valuable than when she was as a contract engineer. She may be grappling 
with the fact that in changing careers, her sense of herself as a professional, her 
professional identity, would change as well. 

As a woman in her 20 's, Sofia's uncertainty about her career choice and her place 
in this world were in line with the driving questions typical of 20-somethings as posited 
by Baxter Magolda (2001): Who am I? How do I know? What relationships do I want 
with others? This journey of discovery for Sofia continued throughout the semester of the 
study. In her final journal entry she questioned whether or not she still wanted to pursue 
teaching at all. She expressed a feeling of being slightly "derailed." She went on to write, 
"Now I want to focus more on understanding languages and language acquisition, so 
perhaps teaching isn't going to be the best place for me. I'm not sure. I have again 
become confused about what I want to do with my life." 



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In her self-exploration and shifting sense of self, Sofia often described herself in 
terms of self-doubt, which is a common phenomenon among many women (Belenky, et 
al., 1986). Pulling from the three interviews, table 5.1 shows how Sofia described herself 
to me. 



Table 5.1 Sofia's Descriptions of Herself 



Interview 


Expression of self-doubt 


Other expressions of self 


First interview 
(beginning of 

semester) 


I'm not very good at history. 

I'm just kind of flaky. 

I never really thought of myself as a very 

creative person. 

I'm kind of flaky. 

This shows how naive I am. . . 


I am kind of a shy person. 

I always did well in school; it 

was always really easy. 

I'm a pretty sharing person. 

Sometimes I don't stop 

talking. 

I'm chatty sometimes. 


Second interview 
(middle of 

semester) 


I'm not the most creative person in the 

world. 

I just get distracted too easily. 

I don't like to start things. 

I'm not a boat rocker. 

I'm kind of passive. 

I keep to myself. 

I'd like to be able to do this, but I don't 

know if I can. 

The more I learn, the more I know that I 

don't know. 

I'm not the most positive about the stuff 

that's already in here (points to head). 




Third and final 
interview (after 
course ended) 


Maybe it's a problem with me. . .1 don't feel 

like what I put out is that good. 

My expectations of what I should do are just 

way too high. 

I always wait to the last minute on 

everything. 

But I don't always put out my best product 

under pressure, either. 

I'm always concerned about like, "What if 

nobody agrees with me?" 

I really don't want to be wrong. 

I hate A minuses. 

If I were a better student I would do it. 

I'm moody. 

I don't know if I'm going to be able to 

handle this. 

I don't know if I'll ever think I know 

enough. 

I don't think I can do it. 

I'm just insecure of what my abilities are 

and what I know. 


I tend to work better under 

pressure. 

I'm the kind of person that if I 

get going, I kind of won't stop 

talking. 

If nobody agrees with me that 

doesn't necessarily mean that 

what I think is so completely 

crazy. 

I am a little long-winded. 

I'm pretty good at taking tests. 

Because I'm kind of digital, 

it's either got to be structured 

completely or I'll wing it. I 

need to learn how to 

compromise. 



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The statements represented in table 5.1 were revealing about Sofia's sense of self, 
the expectations she set for herself, and her way of making sense of her experiences. Her 
comments showed how she had a tendency to fluctuate based on her moods and 
emotions. At times she expressed confidence and an internal source of authority, whereas 
other times she expressed insecurity and an external source of authority. This 
phenomenon will be described later in this chapter in reference to her way of knowing. 

Ways of Knowing and Online Learning 

When it came to the online learning environment, Sofia did not consider herself a 
computer person, even though she assessed her confidence in online learning at a four out 
of five both at the beginning and at the end of the semester. She admitted that she was not 
very active in the online discussions and told me that while she appreciated not having to 
go to class and find a place to park, the most difficult part of being in an online class was 
reminding herself to get on the computer and do the work. Keeping up and responding to 
the discussion posts seemed to be the most challenging aspects of online learning to 
Sofia. And as shown above, Sofia described that she learns best through talking and 
listening rather than reading and writing. 

Part of Sofia's struggles during the semester had to do with her entrance into a 
new figured world, but another aspect of her struggles had to do with the disconnect 
between how Sofia felt she learned best and the way the online learning environment was 
set up. "That's just how I learn. I learn, I think, when I listen." It was understandable, 
then, that there were not many online postings that she remembered. However, there was 
one that stuck out to her because she was bothered by something one of her classmates 

103 



said. When I asked her if she challenged that person's thinking, she told me that she did 
not like to start things and did not want to 'rock the boat.' 

I think that people are allowed to have their thoughts, and I don't feel like I have 
to push mine onto other people. I'm kind of passive. . .1 noticed what I do in the 
online classes, I actually talk a lot more about me than I would in person, in a 
group setting, because I really, I don't want people to know that much about me. 
I'm kind of just, I keep to myself, but I guess just because nobody is looking at 
me, it's a little easier just to say, 'this is what happened with me or what I think', 
but I'm still not quite to the point where I just want to challenge somebody on 
something. 

Comments such as these provide insights into the ways in which Sofia thinks and 
makes sense of her experiences. Ways of knowing are frameworks for meaning-making 
that evolve and change (Belenky, et al., 1986, p. 155). Sofia exhibited several 
characteristics in common with a connected knower (Belenky, et al., 1986). Connected 
knowing is one aspect of procedural knowing, or the voice of reason. Connected knowers 
learn through empathy and have difficulty arguing with others because they can see, or at 
least attempt to see, their points of view. Connected knowers seek to understand rather 
than judge and often find themselves attached to objects they seek to understand because 
they genuinely care about them. I felt that Sofia genuinely cared about what she was 
learning about: ELLs and ESL education. It was important to her to do well for her future 
ELLs and she often expressed a sense of empathy and attempts to understand them and 
what they might be going through. 

Connected and procedural knowers "feel like chameleons; they cannot help but 
take on the color of any structure they inhabit" (Belenky, et al., 1986, p. 129). This 
description seems appropriate for Sofia as she mentioned several times that she often 
finds herself interested in whatever it is that she is doing or reading at the time, and her 

104 



constant fluctuation back and forth between potential careers is largely mood-dependent. 
"I can see both sides of like everything, and I'm always on the fence. . .it depends on my 
mood." 

Connected knowers tend to view the personality of people with whom they 
interact in a group enriches the group's understanding as a whole. Also, "connected 
knowing works best when members of the group meet over a long period of time and get 
to know each other well" (Belenky, et al., 1986, p. 119). This is consistent with Sofia's 
difficulty with the online learning environment and may have impacted her potential to 
learn effectively under that medium of instruction. It is typically more difficult to get a 
sense of someone's personality online because there are only a few months to interact and 
there is little opportunity to really get to know each other well. 

Sofia's tendency toward connected knowing may help to explain why the online 
discussion postings made Sofia anxious and nervous. In our final interview she explained, 

And the thing that made me the most anxious or nervous about the whole class 
was the posting. Yeah. I really didn't enjoy that at all. 'Cause, I'm that kind of 
person, that if I get going, I kind of won't stop talking. But I'm always so 
concerned about like, "What if nobody agrees with me?" Well, but if nobody 
agrees with me, that doesn't necessarily mean that what I think is so completely 
crazy. 

Another explanation Sofia gave for her anxiousness and nervousness about posting had to 
do with her own perceptions of writing and her sense of herself as a writer. 



'Cause to me, my writing has always been kind of private, ever since I was little, 
because I've written - like kept journals and stuff, but that's always my stuff, 
nobody else really reads that. So when I'm writing about my thoughts and my 
opinions, that's really just for me. It's not for other people, so it's just really 
tough. 



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These comments also suggest that Sofia may have held differing sources of 
authority, both internal and external, which may have also been mood-dependent. 
Consistent with Kegan's (1994) socializing way of knowing, Sofia at times expressed 
concern for what others thought of her. She did not feel comfortable challenging others 
and did not want to be seen as wrong (Drago-Severson, 2004). However, Sofia also 
exhibited a sense of internal authority at times, more in line with a self-authoring way of 
knowing (Drago-Severson, 2004; Kegan, 1994). While she admitted that she did not want 
others to see her as wrong, she also seemed convinced that even if they did, that did not 
discount her opinion, meaning that what she had to say would still be valuable. She also 
admitted that she struggles to meet her own high expectations, rather than the 
expectations of others. 

Summary of Sofia's Experiences 

During the time of the study, Sofia was engaged in self -reflection and undergoing 

a transition that led her to challenge some of her previously-held assumptions. Through 

her experiences with course activities as well as her experience as a Spanish language 

learner helped her develop new understandings about the education of culturally and 

linguistically diverse learners. The field assignments, due to the personal nature and 

emotional effect they had on Sofia, resulted in the experiences that had the greatest 

impact on her. At times her perceived increase in knowledge and experience appeared to 

result in a gain of confidence and at other times a decrease in confidence. Due to the fact 

that what Sofia learned was so new to her and because of her transition from the world of 

math and engineering to the world of education and teaching, Sofia felt outside of her 

comfort zone, which resulted in feelings of uncertainty, nervousness and being 

106 



overwhelmed. Overall, I would conclude that Sofia learned about herself and about how 
to better meet the needs of her future ELLs, but that this semester was not a 
transformative experience for Sofia. 

Kathy 
Background 

Kathy is a self-described gregarious New Yorker and divorced mother of two in 
her early 50's. Kathy earned her B.S. in mathematics and also took several graduate 
courses in math as well. In fact, she had completed nine out of ten courses required for a 
Ph.D. in 1995, but she stopped because her son became ill. "I'm only missing one class. 
I'd written most of my dissertation and my son fell horribly ill and he went into kidney 
failure and they didn't expect him to make it. They told me to prepare for him to die. And 
he is doing great! I didn't listen to a word they said." When she decided to go back to 
school many years later in 201 1 she did not remember what she had learned. 

I started looking and honestly I didn't remember anything. I would've had to start 
all over. The nine out often classes I had I didn't remember hardly any of it. And 
I said, "I don't a) want to take these over again and b) you have to take a test now 
with everything you learned so I really would have to re-learn it all. And the other 
thing was I really wasn't interested anymore. I wanted something more hands-on 
and teaching math at the college or doing research was not really what I wanted. I 
love middle school and that's where I wanted to be. 

As a result, Kathy entered the alternative licensure program for secondary math 

education. She started taking classes for the program in the summer of 201 1. Therefore, 

the semester of the study was her second semester in the program. Kathy was taking a 

total of 15 units that semester, which caused her to feel "nervous," because in addition to 

taking classes and being a mom, she was a full time first- year teacher and also ran a local 

restaurant/bar. 

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Kathy considered herself "well-rounded and worldly" partly due to her exposure 
to diverse cultures in New York. She described growing up in a "culturally diverse, 
white, suburb on Long Island." 

I grew up in New York. I'm definitely a New Yorker. I had all ethnic groups all 
over our neighborhood. I've gone to Temple; I've gone to different faith services. 
I was raised Catholic. I'm Baptist now. This goes hand in hand. So I've learned a 
lot about ethnicities. I have a very ethnic palate. I can cook food from most 
countries. I understand at least the basics of most people's culture. . .from, you 
know, interacting with them. And I enjoy that and I enjoy languages. 

In addition to her culturally diverse upbringing, as an adult Kathy lived and 
traveled extensively due to her ex-husband's job in the military. "I've lived in 19 states 
and I've lived in Hawaii and I've lived in Korea and then I've spent time in Japan, I've 
spent time in China, I've spent time in Hong Kong, Macau." 

Throughout her travels abroad, Kathy described herself as a person who acquired 
languages quickly and easily. "Within three weeks <of living in Korea> I had a good 
conversational ability where I could ask directions, I could get money at the bank, I could 
go grocery shopping, I could ask for discounts, I could do whatever." She said that 
through her travels she was able to pick up bits and pieces of many different languages. 
"I have an ease with languages; so I picked it up." 

In addition to acquiring a certain level of conversational language through 

exposure, Kathy also had an aunt who spoke to her in Spanish growing up. "And then my 

aunt by marriage spoke Spanish with me since I was little so I'm fluent in Spanish." 

Kathy took six years of Spanish in school as well. However, even though Kathy 

considered herself "fluent" in Spanish, she only rated her Spanish ability as a two out of 

five on the background questionnaire. 

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So on your form I put a two and my friend was laughing; she's like, "a two?! You 
don't understand what a two is, Kathy." I put a one in Korean and she's like, "you 
don't understand what a one or a two is." But in my opinion that's what it is 
because a five would be a perfect native speaker in my opinion so therefore I'm a 
two or a one. 

Teaching Experience 

Kathy talked to me about the variety of teaching experience she had. 

I've taught third grade. I've taught my son's class geometry when they needed a 
teacher. I've taught college algebra for four semesters and I've taught physics in 
the high school and taught English as a second language in Korea. I've taught 
religion to middle school students, which is where my experience is with middle 
school students. And right now I'm teaching sixth through twelfth including high 
school drama. 

In reference to her diverse teaching experiences she said, "I definitely have very different 
experiences than most people." When I inquired about how she came to teach drama, she 
told me that she was given the choice to teach an elective and drama was what she chose 
to teach. "I will always do an elective class. I think it's so important to experience. 
Teaching drama is totally different than teaching math." She also mentioned that she had 
experience with acting, which is what drew her to it. "I've acted a lot and I've been in 
plays a lot. . .1 have so much fun. The kids are having a great time and I'm having a great 
time with them." 

When we discussed Kathy 's experiences teaching ESL in Korea, she mentioned 
that she tutored approximately 75 students over a two-year period. I asked her how she 
ended up teaching English out there and she responded, 



Well, the first day I'm in Korea a girl meets me and she asks me if I would teach 
English to her. And she offered to pay me and I said, "You don't have to pay me, 
I'll just help you." And she was wonderful and she did a lot for me, but then she 
got me a whole bunch of other students that really did pay me. I mean a million 
won a week, which is about a thousand dollars. So I made about a thousand 

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dollars a week and had lots of students and I had fun. And I did that all day long. 
They'd come over and I would teach them English. 

Kathy compared her experience teaching ESL in Korea to her experience teaching math 
here in the U.S. "I taught English to people who wanted to learn English. Right now I'm 
teaching math to a child who doesn't speak English. I'm sure he wants to learn English 
but I'm not teaching English, I'm teaching math and he speaks Spanish." 

When asked to rate her level of teaching experience overall, Kathy rated herself in 
between a novice and a veteran (three out of five). And when asked to rate her level of 
confidence and/or ability to teach culturally and linguistically diverse learners, she rated 
herself at a two out of five. In Kathy's first journal entry she wrote, "I know I have a lot 
to learn." And in her final reflection paper she stated, "At the start of the semester my 
knowledge of ELL students was virtually nonexistent." She also reported having no prior 
training to work with ELLs. 

Beliefs and Understandings about Linguistic Diversity 

Given Kathy's upbringing, travels, exposure to, and appreciation for diverse 
cultures and languages, it was not surprising that she rated her interest in having ELLs in 
her classroom very high (five out of five). In addition, her pre-semester LATS scores 
suggested that she was extremely tolerant of linguistic diversity. She expressed in her 
responses to the survey that it was important for people in the US to learn a language in 
addition to English and that the rapid learning of English for ELLs should not be a 
priority if it means they will lose ability in their native language. Kathy also indicated 
that learning English should not take precedence over learning subject matter. 



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Kathy argued that she believed math to be its own language and therefore her 
subject area related well to the course content and goals. In our first interview she said, 

Well, I will tell you. . .math is a language also and people don't really understand 
that. Math IS a language and I'm hoping to get better strategies on teaching in 
general. Language acquisition also has a lot to do with knowledge acquisition. 
They go hand-in-hand. And I think having a basic understanding of that is really, 
really important. 

Kathy 's above comment revealed not only what she hoped to get out of the 
course, but also of her ideas about language and knowledge acquisition. She also made 
comments that allowed me a glimpse into her worldview in favor of diversity and 
embracing other cultures. 

And I think that for so long if you go back to our perspective in the 50's and 60's 
and how all we did was want to throw them into a melting pot and have them 
assimilate and become one of us. But that's really horrible. How we could've 
been so insensitive as to think that that was okay is beyond me. 

She described her own experiences in New York and expressed her view that 
people tend to want everyone to be the same, a view with which she does not agree. In 
fact, she blames a local drug problem on the lack of diversity and pressure to conform. 

I'm thinking I, being a New Yorker, I have had a lot of people here not like me 
because I am REALLY a New Yorker. I'm a gregarious New Yorker. And people 
don't like that. They want people to be the same. What was that TV commercial? 
Same thing, same day, same thing, same day. . .what a boring world! It's a boring 
world! We have a real meth problem here because we want everyone to be the 
same. There's no diversity. It's a lot of pressure for people who aren't the same 
and don't fit the mold. 

She re-asserted her views in our second interview. 



We should embrace everything. There are so many nice things out there and we 
try to throw it all away. We try to take everything; pick it all gray. I want a pink 
world. Show them what's good about our culture and embrace what's good about 
theirs and make something nice. 



Ill 



In general it was clear that Kathy embraced diversity and felt a sense of urgency 
to learn everything she could to help her English learner learn. She appeared open to new 
ideas and hoped for strategies she could directly apply to hear teaching context. 
Throughout her participation in course activities along with her own personal experiences 
during the semester of the study, Kathy reported that her thinking about ELLs and 
teaching ELLs had changed. 

Reported Changes as a Result of Course Participation 

Over the course of the semester, Kathy reported an increase in both confidence 
and knowledge as a result of her participation in the course. She self-assessed an increase 
of 17.5 points out of 50 in her knowledge of ELL issues. In her initial assessment she 
averaged a 2.3 per response, which most closely equated to "very little knowledge." She 
indicated that she had "some knowledge" of about half of the topics and very little to no 
knowledge on the other half. However, on the end-of- semester survey her average 
response jumped to a 4.1 ("quite a bit of knowledge"). The topic in which she reported 
the greatest increase in knowledge was that of sheltered content instruction and how to 
implement it. 

Kathy also reported an increased level of confidence from the beginning to the 

end of the semester. She perceived her level of confidence in the beginning at a two out 

of five, relatively low, but by the end of the semester her perception of confidence 

increased to a four out of five. The data suggests that it is likely that her increased 

confidence is due in part to her perceived increase in knowledge, but more so due to the 

fact that she was teaching during the same semester she was taking this course and was 

able to directly and immediately apply strategies she was learning. And not only that, but 

112 



the changes she made to her teaching practice resulted in academic growth and success in 
her ELL. This success appeared to make an impact on Kathy and her thinking. 

I was really touched by the growth that my ELL students, how responsive they 
were. . .1 think this gave my kids back some of their power. I thought that was 
really good. I loved watching them respond. I liked watching them blossom, I 
liked watching them learn English. 

In her final discussion post, Kathy wrote to her classmates, "I never imagined such a 
significant shift in thoughts. . .1 know I need more strategies, but I now feel I won't fail in 
my efforts!" 

The results of Kathy' s post-semester LATS suggested that she remained 
consistent in her positive attitudes toward linguistic diversity. Only one of her answers 
changed from the beginning to the end of the semester and that was on whether or not 
English should be the official language of the United States. Her initial response was 
"strongly disagree," but answered "uncertain" in her follow-up survey. This suggests that 
her overall tolerance for linguistic diversity remained high. 

While Kathy reported changes in her informational knowledge and confidence 

and reported consistent attitudes towards linguistic diversity, it was clear that shifts did 

occur in Kathy's thinking, awareness and understandings about ELLs. For example, when 

she began the semester she was convinced that she had only one ELL. In our first 

interview she claimed, "We really don't have an ELL program. We only have one student 

to be in it, but we're doing our best for him." At the mid-way point of the semester she 

still spoke of only one ELL. "Unfortunately, our ELL population is this person. . .it's 

extra funding, extra money, but it's worth it for this one little boy." However, by the end 

of the semester she determined that many more of her students were in fact ELLs. 

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There's more ELLs than people realize. . .And that is the key, because I would 
never in a million years have identified. . .not lying, I would have only identified 
one, well two, of my students as ELLs, and there's 17. 1 would have missed the 
other 15 because they speak English so well. I would have just said, "Oh, they're 
just not studying," and I wouldn't have realized, "Oh yes, you really don't 
understand English, do you?" I started the journaling component; they journal 
every day. When I started reading their journals, I realized that they were writing 
as English language learners, and not as Americans. It was interesting. I mean I 
had so many and I didn't know it. When I talked to the school, "We don't really 
have any ELLs, we just have the one." Well, not only did we have the one, I had 
17 just of my 55 students, which is you know 15%. 

When I calculated 17 out of 55 students, the resulting percentage was actually about 31% 
as opposed to 15%. Therefore, Kathy had an even higher percentage of ELLs than she 
realized at the end. 

As Kathy indicated in her comment above, she came to the realization that there is 
often a difference between a student's ability in basic interpersonal communication skills 
(BICS) and their cognitive academic language proficiency (CALP) (Echevarria & 
Graves, 2010). Therefore, if a student can communicate effectively in English one might 
assume that they are proficient in English. However, upon closer scrutiny one might 
discover that they may not actually be proficient. At another point in our final interview, 
Kathy indicated that it was through her participation in the course that she became aware 
of this distinction and it frustrated her that others had not yet learned about it. 

I was angered that my other teachers just expected, because he could keep up a 
conversation, and that a lot of the other students were excellent conversationalists, 
that they were. . .That's exactly what it was, it was BICS versus CALP. They 
didn't get it. They had no clue because they 'd never taken anything that would 
have led them to understand that. . .and they thought that because he could carry 
out a conversation saying, "Oh yeah, he knew how to dress, and this ball game," 
that he could understand content area knowledge, and he could not. That was very 
upsetting to me, and I realized it wasn't just him, it was another 15 or 16 kids in 
my class who were in the same position, and it was a substantial number. And 
even if English was their primary language, a lot of these kids had problems, 

114 



because their parent's language wasn't primary, so they weren't hearing that 
higher level vocabulary in the home, and that made a huge difference. 

Specific Reactions to Course Activities 

Kathy mentioned that she learned a great deal from watching the panel discussion, 
the first field assignment. She indicated, however, that while she learned a lot of useful 
information and strategies, she would have appreciated greater detail about each strategy 
presented. 

Well, they had so many strategies for teaching the ELLs and they weren't even, 
they were just like glimmered on. They really didn't talk about them. They just 
said, "oh the here, here, here, these are the things you do." And I'm thinking, 
"Whoa! I need a lecture on each one of these things! 

She admitted that she was surprised by the statistics of the local ELL population, which 
she learned about from the video. 

I was very surprised, because statistics were that such a high Asian population up 
north as opposed to the high Spanish population down south, but I mean I guess it 
makes sense, because a lot of the Spanish are migrant or you know lower income. 
And the Asians are higher income. But, I still thought it was shocking that there 
were so many Asians in the American public school system. 

The above comment also revealed some assumptions that Kathy held about what she saw 
as typical Spanish-speakers and typical Asians. 

Not only did Kathy appear surprised by the ethnic make-up of students in local 
school districts, but also by the differences in services that were provided to them. She 
wrote in her assignment write-up that she was "surprised at how services were provided 
across districts," but concluded that, "the panel discussion created an even greater desire 
for me to effectively teach my ELLs." 



115 



When I asked Kathy in our mid- semester interview about what she felt had 
contributed most to her learning up to that point, she emphatically answered, "that panel 
video!" She admitted that at first she did not want to watch it and found the beginning 
boring, but in the end she was glad she watched it. 

I didn't want to watch it. I will tell you, because we watched it two weeks in a 
row. First week, I watched the first half, and I thought, "Oh, this is boring." The 
second half was where I found all the information. I mean I found lots of 
interesting facts from the first week, but I think I fell asleep on it, because my 
daughter found like this (gestures being asleep with mouth wide open) and I was 
really exhausted and overwhelmed. 

She indicated that she would have preferred to have had the opportunity to be in the 
audience during the live discussion. 

I would have so much to ask them, and I would have been required to go, and I 
would have heard them a little better, and I would have seen their body language 
more. . .1 actually think that we need some panel discussions, but it doesn't 
necessarily have to be ELL directors. It could be someone. . .you. It could be you 
and <Eva> just having a discussion. 

For the second field assignment, the cultural field experience, Kathy had a strong 
emotional reaction. She attended an Islamic temple for the Friday Yuma service, a 
weekly Friday congregational service for Muslims. Kathy admitted that she chose this 
event for several personal reasons. In her reflection of the experience, she wrote, 

I chose this event primarily because I have never had any significant associations 
with Muslims, individually or in a group. Secondly, when I was considering going 
to a mosque, I actually felt afraid! I was surprised at myself. I consider myself to 
be very accepting of other cultures and faiths, but Islam brought to mind very 
negative connotations. (My family has an apartment in the World Financial 
District in NYC, and we lost many friends during 9/1 1). I realized that I had 
misconceptions and prejudices that needed to be dealt with. 

Kathy admitted that she found it "hard to be culturally objective." Many of her 
struggles to be culturally objective and sensitive stemmed from the disparity that she 

116 



observed between the treatment of men and women. She told me, "It frustrates me. It 
frustrates me that these men come in there dressed like kings and slobs, and the women 
have to have their face covered up. That really annoys me. But do I need to be culturally 
sensitive? Yes." She wrote in her reflection, "The fact that the women worship apart from 
men was totally accepted as natural and expected by the entire congregation. As a 
liberated westerner I felt this was unfair. I know that this is their culture, but I can't 
believe, especially in the United States, that they haven't rebelled against this." Kathy 
admitted that while she did not like the fact that women had to remain covered, she 
adhered to their customs and went to the service covered. "Well, if you're going to go 
into someone's dwelling, you need to you know take off your shoes if that's the fuss." 

Another difference in gender Kathy noted was in how the children behaved at the 
service. 

It was difficult for me to allocate my full attention to the service; there were 
several young boys fooling around in the visitors' area. The young girls were all 
controlled by their mothers. One little girl, the only one with her father and not 
mother, was well behaved. . .The behavior of the male children while annoying, 
was illuminating. I saw how structured they were with the young girls and how 
permissive with the boys. I was surprised to see the one young girl in the male 
area with her father, but her behavior was exemplary. 

While Kathy described her struggles to understand her experience, she also 
explained how they treated her well and she did not feel as though she was treated 
differently than anyone else. She said, "They were very nice to me." In her write-up, she 
expanded. 

The reaction of the man in charge and the congregation as a whole to my presence 
was surprising. I believed they genuinely wanted me to feel welcome and have a 
good experience. They went out of their way to seem interested in me and to my 
comfort and understanding of the service. Seeing first hand that Muslims are 

117 



caring and interested in others, and in me in particular, lessened my degree of 
apprehension. In the future I will be more capable and willing to understand cross 
cultural barriers of all types because of this experience. I have a better 
understanding of their faith and realize that mainstream Muslims have ethics 
similar to my own. This experience really illuminated the concept of cultural 
pluralism. 

In an attempt to make sense of her experience overall, Kathy described an internal 
struggle and concluded that she learned a lot about herself as a result. 

The fact that I consider myself an extremely well rounded person, both open to 
new experiences, and accepting of others' diversity, was confirmed and 
challenged by this exercise. I have learned more about myself and my ability to 
relate to people of different cultures through this assignment. 

In our final interview, Kathy reflected once again on this experience and talked about 
how it continued to cause her to self -reflect. 

Well, I realized that putting myself in a culturally unique position, a) that was 
very hard for me, but doing it I realized that I am very intolerant of Muslims. I 
am, and I'm really trying to work on that. I just think that they are so against 
women, and I feel that the religion is so demeaning for women, and I can't 
understand how any woman would do it, but I mean we do things that other 
people think are odd, too, and we have to realize that. So, that was a lot of self- 
reflection on that. 

For the third field experience, Kathy completed a variation on the original 
assignment. Instead of observing an ESL class, she watched three YouTube videos on 
SIOP (sheltered instruction observation protocol). In our very first interview she told me 
her plan. "I definitely want to look at a lesson early on as opposed to whenever it's due 
because I want to see what someone else does and I definitely don't have time to go 
observe someone in person." It is important to note that Kathy's altered third field 
experience did not come up again in any of the interviews, suggesting it may not have 
had a powerful impact on her or her thinking. Therefore, I can only infer from her 
assignment write-up the ways in which she reacted to this assignment. 

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In her write-up, Kathy admitted that she saw this altered version of the original 
assignment as less effective. 

I have chosen to meet the first and third objectives by assessing several mini SIOP 
videos on YouTube. I am choosing this less effective option, because of the lack 
of availability of any other viable alternative. In order to meet the second 
objective, I have met with one of the instructors at my school, who has previously 
instructed ELL classes. 

It appeared as though Kathy gained useful strategies by watching the videos, but 
other than that I did not find evidence of a deeper impact. "The strategies used in the 
videos are ones that I have or will utilize in my classroom. They will enable all my 
students, not just my ELLs to understand, verbalize, and utilize the materials and 
knowledge presented more effectively." 

My interpretation of Kathy' s experiences of the three field assignments were that 
the videos she watched (the panel discussion and SIOP lessons on YouTube) resulted in 
additional informational learning and new strategies she could apply in her classroom. 
The second field assignment, however, appeared to result in a deeply emotional reaction 
which caused her to self -reflect and challenge some of her previously held assumptions. 

When I asked Kathy in our mid- semester interview if there was anything in the 
readings that contributed to her learning, like Sofia, she talked about the acquisition of 
first languages (Lightbown & Spada, 2006) and connected that with her own personal 
experiences as a mother. 



Yeah. . .some of the stuff on just acquiring languages first and the younger kids 
acquiring second languages. . .1 don't know if I told you the story of my son? 
Well, I had him with a Korean maid, and I spoke a little bit of Korean, but not a 
ton, but he was speaking very garbled Korean, and I didn't understand it. So, I 
took him to a speech pathologist, because we couldn't understand him. And she 



119 



said, "Well, he's speaking perfectly fine, he's just not speaking English." So, 
actually, his first language was Korean. 

Interestingly, she continued her story and described her experience of being a parent of 
an English language learner. 

And he has problems in English to this day. However, when I filled out the 
questionnaire on first languages, I didn't put that down, because then they always 
program them differently. He could be in a program for English as a second 
language, because technically it is. For the first four years, he spoke Korean, not 
English. 

When I inquired as to whether or not any of the other readings or internet links 
contributed to her learning, Kathy did not mention anything specific. She said, "Some of 
it was pretty interesting, but right now I'm so focused on my ELL that I want to do 
everything for him, so the other stuff, I'm like 'this isn't so applicable.'" 

As for online discussions, at the mid-semester interview Kathy expressed that she 
liked the online discussions and felt they were important. "I like the online discussions. 
They are really good. They are really interesting. . .I've learned a lot from the online 
discussions. I like them, definitely. I think that they are definitely a positive part of the 
course." When prompted to talk about a specific discussion that contributed to her 
learning, she mentioned a topic in which she again made personal connections to her 
family. 

Oh yes, I did. . . 'it's windy now' or 'when they sharped me,' and I remember the 
kids doing that, too. It was really funny. My nephew, I took him to the zoo. . .and 
we get to the porcupines, and I say "these are the porcupines." About an hour 
later, my nephew is crying, and I go, "what is the matter?" And he looks and he 
goes, "why are the cute pines poor?" (Laughs) 

After we shared a few more family stories, I asked her if there was anything else 
specific from the discussions that struck her. Her response was, "I'm so tired right now; 

120 



remind me of some of them. . .1 read so much that that's so hard." I followed up by asking 
her if it was difficult to remember who said what and she replied, "Yeah. Who, what, 
what ideas I got where, but I'm sure I did get some ideas." 

While Kathy suggested that she felt the discussions were useful, she also 
described her disappointment with them and the level of participation in them from 
others. 

I haven't had much interactions with anything. Everything I've been doing, I 
mean most instruction happens with you. And Eva has talked to me a couple of 
times on the phone, and the discussions, but I feel like I couldn't call on some of 
their support. I really do learn it myself. 

In our final interview, she re- visited the topic of online discussions. "We did not 
get any developed discussion, and that was really disappointing. I was horrified at the 
amount of response we got from people." When talking about online discussions, Kathy 
revealed some of her thoughts on learning which have implications for the online 
learning environment. "Ideas are from talking, communicating, you know. You never 
know when the next big idea is going to come, and I think we missed some big ideas." 
Based on her comments, it appears that Kathy 's experiences of the online discussions 
were mixed. 

Kathy 's responses to the activity impact questionnaires suggested that she felt the 

cultural field assignment, the online discussions, and the instructor feedback/input made 

the greatest impact on her, followed closely by the journals, the other two field 

assignments, one of the textbooks (Lightbown & Spada, 2006), and one of the 

supplemental readings, an article on what teachers need to know about language (Wong- 

Fillmore & Snow, 2000). The research paper, the other textbook (Echevarria & Graves, 

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2010), and the SIOP links/video were the other activities that Kathy reported as having an 
average score of four or higher out of five. 

It is important to note that one of the experiences that had a powerful impact on 
Kathy and her thinking during the semester of the study was not part of the course. As 
part of a project with her school, she delivered food baskets to students in her class who 
were living in poverty. Kathy reflected on the change in her awareness of what some of 
her students' lives were like outside of school, which challenged some of her previously- 
held assumptions. 

They have nothing, Stephanie. They are living in places where they have no heat, 
no electricity. And they have no coat, and they don't have eyeglasses when they 
need it. These children have nothing; they need help. It's very upsetting. Yeah, 
my eyes have opened wide. I realize how important it is for a teacher to 
understand her community, and know what her students are going through, and 
how they go home at night, and what they go home to, and whether they have a 
meal or not. Those are all really important factors. You have to know the social 
situation of all your students, in order to affectively teach them. You have to. 

I went to one kid's house, and he had like a pair of flip-flops. I was wondering 
why he was wearing flip-flops every day; it's because all he had were flip-flops. 
I've just never seen anything like that before. They are not meeting their basic 
requirements. It's scary, very scary. I find it so sad. I wanted to advocate the other 
day; now, I'm doubly resolved to advocate for these children. 

Kathy summed up her strong emotional and physical reaction to this experience of 
delivering food baskets. "When I left, first I threw up, then I cried, and now I'm 
proactive." This statement shows her shift from being subject to the experience to being 
object to it. With time she was able to remove herself from those emotions in order to 
reflect on it, move forward, and take action. My sense of Kathy was that she was 
someone who had her students' best interests in mind and appeared willing to do 
anything to help them. 

122 



Transition between Figured Worlds and Subject-Object Shifts 

While she did not delve into the subject as much as Sofia did, it was clear that 
Kathy, too, was experiencing a transition between the figured worlds of math and 
education. She discussed aspects of that transition with me in our very first interview. 

Believe it or not, I never wrote a real paper before on the college level before I 
started taking these classes. I honestly. . .math classes. . .a three-credit math class 
would be approximately 20 hours per week of work. A three-credit education 
class is not 20 hours per week of work. . .So it's a quantitatively different 
ballgame and it's a whole different thought process. One that the creativity is 
different. The creativity is more in terms of the strategy I'm going to use to solve 
this problem. It's not. . .it's totally different creatively. 

While the differences between the two fields were important enough for Kathy to 
mention, she talked about it in a matter-of-fact way and did not appear to have any 
emotional reaction. This revealed to me that she was not subject to the transition, but 
rather held the experience in object position. 

Teacher as Source of Authority and Hints of Dualistic Thinking 

During our three interviews, it was evident that Kathy viewed teachers as sources 
of authority. She approached this topic on multiple occasions from the perspective of 
both a student and a teacher. From her perspective as a teacher she said, "So now the 
responsibility of teaching this student is 100% on me." And when talking about decisions 
to be made for her student, she stated, "Well, I'm not going to say anything to anybody. 
I'm the classroom teacher, I do whatever I want." Kathy saw herself as the authority of 
her own classroom. In turn, she appeared to hold her university instructors as having that 
same authority over her. She looked to the authorities for answers. I will provide 
examples of statements representative of this view later in this portrait, but first I will 



123 



provide some background as to possible epistemological stances under which Kathy may 
have been operating. 

Several comments Kathy made about teachers as sources of authority provided 
evidence that on some level her meaning-making system was dualistic in nature, the view 
that there is a right and wrong (Perry, 1970, 1981). Similar to Perry's dualism is Baxter- 
Magolda's (2001) absolute knowing. Absolute knowers "often assume that right and 
wrong answers exist in all areas of knowledge and that authorities know these answers" 
(Baxter-Magolda, 2001, p. 27). 

An example of Kathy' s dualistic or absolute thinking was a comment she made in 
reference to a prior online class discussion. She said, "Some of the things were really 
wrong. First off, what the student said, which I tried to correct, but you know it's kinda 
hard. So I kind of say, 'well my perspective is dadadadada.' I didn't say, 'well you did 
this wrong,' but I really felt that. . ." As a follow-up to that statement she said, "There was 
so much that came up that oh my god if I was the teacher I would have been 
buhbuhbuhbuhbuh. . ." My interpretation of her statement was that she meant she would 
have jumped in and corrected the students giving the "wrong" answers or opinions if she 
were instructing the class. 

In her quest for receiving knowledge from authorities and as evidence of dualistic 
thinking, she claimed, "I hate when <instructors> don't answer me. Why would you not 
comment on whether these ideas were right or not? I had a very erroneous idea, and the 
<instructor> never corrected it." Another example was when she reflected on her online 
experiences over the summer. 

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These are my first four online classes that I took this semester and the discussion 
board really irked me. . .there was so much room for crafting by teachers that was 
not taken. I felt like we were teaching ourselves and I think that was wrong. I 
didn't learn anything from the teacher. 

This dualistic, absolute type of thinking is also aligned with Kegan's (1982) 
instrumental knowing. A person who operates in an instrumental way of knowing "tends 
to maintain a what-do-you-have-that-can-help-me/what-do-I-have-that-can-help-you 
perspective of life" (Drago-Severson, 2004, p. 23). Part of the instrumental meaning- 
making system consists of a focus on concrete consequences, such as getting a good 
grade, being successful, getting a job, and so forth. Instrumental knowers also tend to 
view other people "as either pathways or obstacles to getting one's concrete needs met" 
(Drago-Severson, 2004, p. 24). 

Kathy's next statement aligns with the above description of instrumental knowers. 
I presented part of this statement earlier to describe her reaction to the online discussions. 
However, it is important to re-introduce it here as part of the context of how Kathy was 
making sense of her experiences overall. "I feel like I couldn't call on some of their 
support. I really do learn it myself. So I blog a lot, try to figure out what I'm doing, but 
I'm really nervous. I want to succeed in this program." Her goal of succeeding in the 
program and viewing the lack of support from others as a potential barrier to her success 
was consistent with an instrumental way of knowing. 

Additional evidence in Kathy's statements that suggested she was operating to 
some degree as an instrumental knower had to do with her struggles to take on the 
perspective of others. We saw evidence of this in her reactions to her experience at the 



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mosque. Another example was when Kathy first described her ELL to me and had 
difficulty understanding the choices his family had made. 

This child happens to be in seventh grade. Now his brother is in sixth grade, 
speaks perfect English. You know he has an accent, but very slight and I couldn't 
understand it, but I guess his brother's been here for a year. He was here for a few 
months and then went back with his dad to Mexico and then his dad finally let his 
mother keep him, too. / don 't know why he would let her keep one and not the 
other... Who the heck knows? 

A similar example was when Kathy talked to me about the mother of that same 
student. It was during our first interview that she said, "And she's not interested in 
learning the language, which I think is crazy. Why would you want to live here if you're 
not interested in learning the language?" She did not take into consideration at that point 
the reasons behind her lack of interest in learning the language, which may not have been 
lack of interest at all, but rather lack of time or resources. 

It is important to note that Kathy appeared to make a shift in meaning-making 
over the course of the semester by attempting to understand others' perspectives. Kathy 
took the time over the semester to get to know this woman and learned more about her 
daily schedule and struggles. She shared with me a little about what she learned. 

She's a really neat lady and works up in a Spanish-speaking clinic up in Denver, 
which is really hard. So she's driving up to Denver every day. She coming home 
at 6:30 pm; she's dropping them off at you know 7:00 am, driving up to Denver, 
getting up to Denver at 9:00, leaving Denver at 5:00, and getting down at 6:30 to 
pick them up again. I mean that's really tiring! 

Learning more about the mother's daily schedule, she was better able to understand why 
she was not taking English classes. Kathy revealed a shift in her perspective because of 
her new understandings. In our final interview she claimed, "Another big thing is just 
really understanding their parents, and helping them cope. I mean it can be a big change. 

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We don't know the reasons why they came to the United States. We don't know what 
was motivating them." 

Kathy's statements showed additional evidence of attempts to understand others' 
perspectives. "Understanding just your own culture's differences helps you understand 
that, how our ELL students have big cultural differences, and their customs are culturally 
different, and being tolerant of that." Kathy revealed a similar internal struggle to 
understand the perspective of the Muslim women at the service she attended (see Specific 
Reactions to Course Activities above for more in-depth description). 

Sense of Self 

The ways in which people make sense of their experiences, their ways of 
knowing, are due in large part to their sense of self, or identity. It was my interpretation 
of Kathy's statements that her identity as a New-Yorker played a big role in the way she 
thought and made sense of her experiences. Over the course of our three interviews, she 
mentioned being from New York or being a New-Yorker seven times. 

Other aspects of Kathy's descriptions of herself, her identity, suggested both 
confidence and insecurity. As posited by Belenky, et al. (1986) many women express 
self-doubt and often question their intellectual competence, as I discussed in Sofia's 
portrait. Many of Kathy's statements about herself, on the other hand, tended to reveal 
the opposite. In fact, she spoke very confidently about her intelligence and abilities. "I'm 
very good." "I think I write fairly high level." "My friends are always looking up words 
to keep up with me. . .1 like to help people improve their vocabulary. . .1 love words. I play 



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words with friends and nobody beats me ever." See Table 5.2 for further statements 
Kathy used to describe herself. 

Table 5.2 Kathy's Descriptions of Herself 



Interview 


Expressions of self 


One (beginning of semester) 


It was up to me and I didn't want to make the wrong decision. 

I'm very American. 

I'm a very mathematical and phonetic person. 

I enjoy languages. 

I'm fun. I own a bar, what do you expect? 

I'm fluent in Spanish. 

I have an ease with languages. 

I'm a really type A and I hate losing points. 

I am really a New Yorker. I'm a gregarious New Yorker. 

When I write a letter to anybody here I have to dumb my words down. 

I'm 50. I'm tired. 

I'm always smiling. 


Two (mid-semester) 


I'm the classroom teacher. I do whatever I want. 

I seem to be not as technical as some people. 

Of course I'm an advocate, I'm from New York! 

I'm type A. 

I'm very good (at using popsicle sticks and total participation). 

I like to turn things into very concrete. . .very easy for people to see, 

because I am a middle school teacher. 

I think I write fairly high level. 

My friends are always looking up words to keep up with me. 

I like to help people improve their vocabulary. 

I'm an Epicurean, not a heathenish. 

They think I'm crazy. 

I didn't have that word in my vocabulary, can you imagine? I was 

horrified. 

I love words. I play words with friends and nobody beats me ever. 


Three (end-of-semester) 


I was anxious and nervous about my research paper, because that's 

one of my weakest areas. 

I want to advocate for children who have exceptional needs. 

I realized that I'm very intolerant of Muslims. . .I'm really trying to 

work on that. 

We are definitely high-power women. 

I consider myself very well rounded and very worldly. 



While Kathy appeared very confident and self-assured on one hand, there were 
instances where she did seek approval or praise, which indicated a form of self-doubt. 
This approval-seeking phenomenon is common of people operating under a socializing 
way of knowing (Drago-Severson, 2004). As Kegan (1994, p. 171) asserts, for people 



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making sense of their experiences with this way of knowing, "winning the approval and 
acceptance of others" is of utmost importance. Based on statements Kathy made and 
questions she posed, she appeared to see me in some sense as another instructor of the 
course and sought my approval. In our mid-semester interview Kathy described her 
research paper topic to me and indicated that she wanted me to get the topic approved by 
Eva, the instructor. "And I think that's what I want to do my paper on. . .1 thought I would 
talk to her, but maybe you can talk to her for me since I'm so overwhelmed." 

Towards the end of that interview we had an interesting exchange which provided 
additional evidence that Kathy in some ways was seeking approval, praise, or reassurance 
from me. "Let me ask you this, since you grade my papers, what do most people write 
like compared to me? Are you appalled when you read these people's papers?" I 
reminded her that in fact I did not grade her papers and in no way was I evaluating her 
work or comparing it to other people's work. She pushed a little more by saying, "For 
other years. . .what level are these people writing at?" And then she asked, "Mine haven't 
been bad, have they?" Since it was clear she sought an approving response from me, I 
replied with, "Not that I've noticed, no." And her response was, "I didn't think so." 

Summary of Kathy' s Experiences 

Kathy is a complex being who brought with her a very unique background, set of 

experiences and understandings about cultural diversity and working with culturally and 

linguistically diverse learners. Kathy's survey results and many of her statements 

suggested that she was highly tolerant of linguistic diversity, which was not surprising 

given her culturally diverse upbringing in New York City and her extensive travels in the 

U.S. and abroad. However, she admitted that through her course experiences she 

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challenged some of her previously held assumptions. The most concrete example was her 
powerful experience at the mosque for her cultural field assignment. She was aware of 
her intolerance of Muslims due to her perception that they were responsible for the 9/11 
attack on New York. And since being from New York appeared to be an important aspect 
of Kathy's identity, she struggled to change her perspective, and challenged herself to be 
more tolerant. 

The cultural field experience along with her delivery of food baskets to her 
students living in poverty appeared to invoke the greatest emotional reaction from Kathy 
over the course of the semester, both of which led to new understandings and awareness 
of ELL issues. The other field assignments, online discussions, journals, and some of the 
readings appeared to add to Kathy's informational knowledge and strategies for 
effectively instructing her ELLs. As a result, she reported a gain in confidence in her 
ability to teach ELLs. This is an important finding because Kathy was one of only two 
participants who were teaching at the time of the study and had a context to which they 
could apply their new skills and knowledge. 

I conclude that while the majority of Kathy's learning was informational in 
nature, there was evidence of transformational shifts in her thinking. By challenging prior 
assumptions and struggling to understand the perspective of others combined with 
personal reflection on her experiences, Kathy developed new understandings that 
suggested changes in how she understood her ELLs and herself, which is at the heart of 
transformational learning. 



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Jennifer 
Background 

Jennifer is a widowed mother of four in her early 50 's. She earned her B.S. in 
mechanical engineering and was enrolled in the ALP program for secondary math during 
the semester of the study. The first time we spoke was on the phone and the other two 
interviews were in person. During our conversations Jennifer spoke very lovingly of her 
children, and being a mother appeared to be an important aspect of her identity. "Kids are 
such a blessing." During the time of the study, three of her children were away at college 
and one was still at home. Jennifer struggled a bit with that transition. "It's a difficult 
time but that's part of life. They grow up and move on. . .what they're supposed to do." 

Part of Jennifer's struggle with her children leaving home may have been 
influenced by the fact that she lost her husband two years prior. "He had cancer and the 
doctors were very optimistic that it would be fine, and the cancer just did not want to go 
away; and so he died two years ago this coming November." Her husband's passing 
impacted many aspects of her life, including her decision to go into teaching, which I will 
discuss in further detail later on in this section. 

As for Jennifer's background, both of her maternal grandparents came to the 
United States from Germany through Ellis Island. While their native language was 
German, they did not speak a lot of German in the home. Jennifer explained, 



Actually, my grandfather came illegally and then went back and then came here 
and so their native language was German. And my mother was born here in 
America and that was all during. . .right when WWII was easing up. So my 
mom. . .they didn't speak a lot of German in the home and they didn't explain 
their German heritage right away because Germans were really looked down 



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upon. She can understand the language to a degree, but she didn't speak it 
regularly in the home 'cause they were trying to become Americans. 

In order to learn the language of her ancestors, Jennifer took two years of German in high 
school. She admitted struggling with it, though. "I wasn't really great at it just because I 
struggled with languages to begin with. I'm dyslexic and so I really struggled through all 
my language classes. . ." Because of her challenges with language, Jennifer did not feel 
confident in her abilities to speak German. 



My mom would get letters from cousins that stayed in Germany and we would sit 
down together and translate them and stuff but I never got enough to really use it 
or to speak to my grandparents in German. I wasn't confident enough to really 
piece together the language. 

Jennifer cited that her basic knowledge of German had not been overly useful. 



My German is pretty much completely useless. But you know at the time when 
you're in that age you say, "Oh it would be so good to speak the language that my 
grandparents speak. But you know it's just that practically you don't run in to 
people that speak German; at least in America. 

In addition to her pursuit of learning German, Jennifer also took a couple of years 
of Spanish classes in college. She was first exposed to Spanish growing up in California, 
however. In addition, she and her family vacationed in Mexico almost every year 
growing up; then as an adult, Jennifer went on mission trips to Mexico. 

And then the Spanish is more having lived in California and having taken mission 
trips to Mexico. I went to Mexico every year of my life, almost. When I was 
young my parents. . .we would always go down to Ensenada, Mexico and stay in a 
house down there for a week of vacation. And culturally I thought that was a great 
experience because Ensenada wasn't particularly a tourist town and so it is now, 
but it wasn't then, and so you would walk along the streets and there would be 
people who were severely disabled begging. There'd be men with no arms and no 
legs begging. 

Jennifer talked about how her experiences in Mexico opened her eyes to a larger world. 



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I thought it was a really good cultural thing to help me see how blessed I was. 
And I lived in an extremely affluent city, but I was in one of the more middle 
houses, that had maids and cooks and even live-in maids and stuff; so I thought I 
wasn't very rich. But then I went to Mexico and then I went, "ok, I'm a lot better 
off than any of these people." And I think it's a really important lesson for people, 
and especially for kids to get to see, because they usually live in a neighborhood 
where everybody's house is about the same level as theirs. And so they have a 
skewed vision of their. . .they think, "Well, oh I'm just the same as everybody. 
Everybody is like me. . .as far as wealth or prosperity. . ."And going to a country 
where you're really well-off really opens your eyes to how wealthy we are here in 
America. . .how many of us are blessed in so many ways. 

As mentioned, Jennifer went back to Mexico as an adult on mission trips. She 
reflected on those experiences and how she wished she had more of a foundation with the 
Spanish language. 

Close to ten years I'd go on missions trips where I taught swimming lessons 
during a summer day camp for kids in Mazatlan, Mexico and I was with <another 
University' s> swim coach; he and I taught swim lessons. And my husband and 
other people taught tennis and crafts and English and different things like that. We 
did that for a week and so I know sporadic swimming vocabulary in the Spanish 
language. I wish that I had taken Spanish. I look back and think it would have 
been so nice. . .it's just the number of people that you run into that are Spanish- 
speaking. I think it would have been nice to have more of a foundation with that. 

Jennifer grew up in a suburb of Los Angeles, which she described as culturally 
diverse. Due to yearly re-districting, Jennifer and her sister attended a new school almost 
every year. They stayed in the area until Jennifer turned eight, at which time she and her 
family moved to the next city over, a predominantly white city. According to Jennifer, 
this move was part of the 'white flight movement.' 



It was one of what people called white flight cities because it was predominantly 
white. I don't recall having any Blacks at all in my elementary school and by the 
time I hit high school. . .the high school was about 2,000 students and that was 
only grades ten through twelve. We still were no more than 100 minorities in the 
school. And now it's not like that at all. Actually Whites are in the minority 
because it's 50% Asian and at that time it was growing, that was probably the 
strongest number of minorities that we had at my high school was Asian 'cause 
that was the trend that was moving into that area, but so I grew up with. . . 'til eight 

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with an extremely diversified introduction to people and then starting in third 
grade moved to an almost exclusively white public school system. And I know a 
lot of people were doing that for. . .probably plenty of them were doing it for race 
and I don't know that I want to judge my parents' decision-making on it, but I do 
know the frustration that they expressed to us was the changing schools. . .the re- 
drawn bus lines year after year after year. 

After Jennifer graduated high school in California she got married and attended 
college. Her husband was from Texas and so they moved there initially. 

We lived in Texas, lived in Colorado for two years, went back to live in Texas for 
several years, then we lived here for the last 14 years. But as far as traveling 
outside the country I haven't really done any of it other than the few mission trips 
to Mexico. We never really spent money to go farther. . .to Europe or traveled 
around the world at all. 

Teaching Experience 

After her husband passed away, Jennifer did a lot of soul searching to try and 
figure out what it was that she wanted to do. 

My husband was a pastor; so for a lot of my life I spent being the support 
system of that and doing whatever a secretary would do and then he went 
into insurance sales and so I switched over and did that. . .more clerical 
work and then I would sporadically substitute teach. . .<After he passed 
away> my thoughts were, "what should I do? What do I want to do? What 
do I like? I do like to substitute teach". . .yeah I was an engineer, but going 
back to engineering is hard and I was never that wild about it when I 
worked in the field. And so I thought, well, I'll look around and I did find 
this alternative teaching program, so I thought, well this is something I 
could do. It'd still allow me some of the freedoms of time off during the 
summer and such when my kids are. . .1 mean I still have a few years when 
my kids will be attending school with all of college and you kind of think I 
don't really want to work a full time job and emotionally for yourself but 
also for your kids. I didn't want them to lose their mom right after losing 
their dad. 

While Jennifer was in her early 50's, she was asking herself some of the same 
kinds of driving questions typical of people in their twenties (Baxter-Magolda, 2001). 
She was starting a new chapter of her life and trying to figure out who she was and what 



134 



she wanted to do. There were many factors that appeared to influence Jennifer's 
decisions, but her kids seemed to be her primary concern. 

In asking herself what she wanted to do, what she liked to do and what would be 
best for her family, Jennifer concluded that she enjoyed substitute teaching. Having 
subbed for 1 1 years, she started to realize that she enjoyed teaching math and science at 
the secondary level. 

When my youngest went to first grade going full day to school I started substitute 
teaching. . .at first I kind of substituted any grade or any level, but after a while I 
started realizing how much I enjoyed doing math and science specifically with my 
degree and such. And I enjoyed doing the upper grade level. . .1 did like actually 
doing the math and science and I understood it, could answer the questions, felt 
confident standing up there and having a child say, "but I don't understand" and 
it's like "oh, ok" and I could do it without going "yeah, well I guess you'll have to 
ask your teacher when she comes back tomorrow." 

More recently Jennifer was given the opportunity to fill a long-term substitute 
teaching position at the same school her children attended. That experience helped her 
gain confidence and an appreciation for teaching. 

I think I got a real taste for really doing the whole lesson and the grading and 
learning what it would be like if I was actually teaching as opposed to the 
substitute. It was a really neat experience for me to get to do that and see. . .can I 
do it? Is it interesting? Do I still like it? 

She concluded, "Once I got kind of caught up, I was like, 'ok, I think I can do this.'" On 
her background questionnaire she expanded, "I love math and want others to learn to love 
it too. I love to see students grasp new ideas. I love being with students, seeing them learn 
and grow. I think I could make a difference in a student's life." 

Jennifer rated her overall teaching experience as a two out of five. That equates to 
a level just slightly higher than a novice. 

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Beliefs and Understandings about Linguistic Diversity 

With respect to working with ELLs, Jennifer rated her confidence/ability at a one 
out of five, the lowest level possible. Her interest in working with ELLs was slightly 
higher at three out of five, but did not reflect a strong interest. She explained, "Having no 
training or experience in teaching ELLs, I would be interested but concerned that I would 
not do a good job." She expanded on this in her initial journal entry. 

I know very little about English language learners (ELLs). I went to a 
predominantly white high school and had only one friend who was not born in 
America. She was Taiwanese and even though she had only been in America a 
few years, she spoke English very well. I have not substitute taught in a class with 
ELLs. I must admit I am very intimidated about teaching ELLs but I am looking 
forward to learning all I can in this class so I will be better prepared. 

The above statement was reflective of the way Jennifer responded to the initial 

surveys. She rated her knowledge of most items on the knowledge of ELL issues survey 

at "no knowledge" or "very little knowledge." She only rated herself as having "some 

knowledge" on one topic: issues surrounding the debate on bilingual education. As for 

the LATS survey, with reverse coding taken into consideration she responded "strongly 

disagree," "disagree," and "uncertain" on most items, suggesting she was relatively 

tolerant of linguistic diversity overall, but her responses of "uncertain" on four of the 

statements suggested that there were aspects of linguistic diversity about which she did 

not have a strong opinion. For example, she was uncertain about whether or not parents 

of linguistically diverse students should be counseled to speak English with their 

children, whether or not the rapid learning of English should be a priority for ELLs, even 

if it meant losing ability in their native language, and whether or not the learning of 

English should take precedence over learning subject matter. These concepts are typically 

taught in linguistically diverse teacher education courses and since Jennifer reported that 

136 



she had no prior training or experience working with ELLs, it was not surprising that she 
was uncertain about some of these issues. 

Jennifer's LATS responses revealed her biases. She felt people in the U.S. should 
learn a language in addition to English, that it was not unreasonable to expect a regular 
classroom teacher to teach a child who does not speak English, and that having an ELL in 
class would not be a detriment to the learning of other students. Reflective of her journal 
entry, Jennifer also expressed that she felt that teachers should be required to receive pre- 
service or in-service training to be prepared to meet the needs of linguistic minorities. 

Reported Changes as a Result of Course Participation 

Over the course of the semester, Jennifer reported that she gained knowledge as a 
result of her participation in the course. She rated herself at a 17/50 for knowledge of 
ELL issues at the beginning of the semester, which jumped to 29.5/50 at the end of the 
semester. There were two topics that she reported having "quite a bit of knowledge" of at 
the end of the semester, both topics of which she reported having "very little knowledge" 
at the beginning: the local ELL population and legal requirements for educating ELLs. 
However, for the remaining eight topics, she rated herself as having "very little 
knowledge" or "some knowledge." 

Her perceived increase in knowledge may have been a factor in her reported 
increase in confidence to teach ELLs. She reported an increase of two points from the 
beginning to the end of the semester (from a one to a three out of five). She wrote, "I am 
more aware of ways to instruct ELLs." While her sense of confidence may have 



137 



increased from the beginning to the end, she expressed that her level of confidence 
fluctuated throughout the course. In her final reflection paper Jennifer wrote, 

As the class progressed the amount of information that was presented became 
overwhelming. There was so much to learn and so many ideas about the best way 
to instruct ELLs. Practically speaking I was very nervous about teaching ELLs. I 
felt I was not prepared. Confidence in my ability to teach ELLs dropped. I was in 
information overload and I needed to take a step back and remember why I was 
learning this material. Realizing that I was not expected to be an expert in the 
instruction of ELLs from taking this one course helped me to gain perspective and 
not lose faith in my ability to learn how to teach. 

In her reflection she also wrote, "I know that I am better prepared to face the 
challenges of instructing a class with English language learners." However, on her final 
questionnaire, she rated her interest in having ELLs in her classroom at a two out of five, 
which had actually dropped from the beginning of the semester when she reported her 
interest at a three. Her written response was, "my interest is low because I do not feel 
prepared to instruct ELLs." 

The results of her LATS survey suggest that Jennifer became less tolerant of 
linguistic diversity over the course of the semester. While I could infer that she was in a 
negative frame of mind when she filled out the survey, I am skeptical about the results of 
this survey because several of her responses did not match with her interview and other 
written data. I believe it is possible that she misread the scale and answered "agree," for 
example, when she may have meant to answer "disagree." 

As an example of Jennifer's change in her responses, she reported being uncertain 

at the beginning of the semester as to whether or not the rapid learning of English should 

be a priority for ELLs even if it meant losing ability in their native language. At the end 

of the semester she agreed with that statement. She was also uncertain at the beginning as 

138 



to whether or not the learning of English should take precedence over the learning of 
subject matter, to which she again replied "agree" at the end of the semester. These 
responses are contrary to what she expressed in her reflection paper, in which she 
challenged some of her previously held assumptions. 

I really had no idea. Part of my problem was my lack of understanding of what 
qualifies a student as an ELL. I thought all ELLs spoke little or no English. My 
other misconception was the amount of time it takes for an ELL to be proficient 
and no longer in an ESL program. I thought that language acquisition took a short 
period of time. I do not know why I thought this, perhaps because I could not 
imagine them surviving school unless they rapidly learned English. I was 
certainly ignorant. 

In addition, Jennifer indicated on the LATS that she initially felt that having an 
ELL in class would not be detrimental to the learning of others. However, at the end she 
changed her response to indicate that she felt having an ELL would be detrimental to the 
learning of others. In our final interview she expressed the opposite, another challenged 
assumption. 

And I think the end thing would be the fact that there were benefits; that it was 
less. . .that the instruction itself was less just geared to ELLs and would benefit the 
class. I don't think I really thought about that. I thought, "Okay, well I'm going to 
have to work with these kids, you know, to help them understand this vocabulary 
- you know, these words, so that they can do whatever they need to do. That 
would be like taking time away from the rest of the class." I think the idea in 
those models on the sheltered content and the SIOP, showing how they overlap 
and how they both benefit the general population. 

Finally, Jennifer indicated a change in her belief about teachers receiving training 
to instruct ELLs. At the beginning she agreed that teachers should receive training, but at 
the end she disagreed. This was surprising to me because she often expressed feeling as 
though she needed more training. In her first field assignment write-up she wrote, "More 
training and more awareness need to be provided." She reiterated this though in her mid- 



139 



semester journal when she said, "I think this class has given me ideas but has also shown 
me the need for receiving specific training in this area." And in her third and final field 
assignment write-up she concluded, "This assignment also showed me the importance of 
receiving instruction in teaching ELLs." 

In conclusion, because of the multiple discrepancies between the LATS survey 
and other forms of data, I am hesitant to claim that Jennifer became less tolerant of 
linguistic diversity. She may have felt unprepared to teach ELLs upon the conclusion of 
the course, but may not have become less tolerant of ELLs or linguistic diversity as a 
result of her participation in the course. Her reflections and interview data suggest that 
because of her course participation she was better able to challenge some of her 
previously held assumptions about linguistic diversity and issues surrounding the 
instruction of ELLs. I contacted Jennifer in an attempt to clarify this confusion, but did 
not get a response. I am left, therefore, with the need to conclude that the interview data 
reveal more accurately her attitudes toward cultural and linguistic diversity. It is 
important to note that the fact that Jennifer expressed these uncertainties is important. 
The course activities can be revised to anticipate such confusion and address such 
concerns for adult learners enrolled in the course. 

Specific Reactions to Course Activities 

Jennifer expressed mixed reactions to the first field assignment. Overall, though, 

her response seemed positive. "I really liked that. It was just really informative." She was 

surprised by the huge diversity between districts. In her write-up she wrote, "That was a 

lot larger difference than I expected and I found that information to be very useful." In 

our mid-semester interview she expanded by saying, "It was eye-opening. I appreciated 

140 



getting it at the beginning of the year, because I would love to see that again, and maybe 
have more control questions." Jennifer expanded on her reactions in our final interview. 

On the positive, I found surprising and shocking just knowing the numbers of 
ELLs on that first interview, where they were talking about the percent in the 
different districts and how it varied. I knew that was the case, but even just 
knowing the percent was interesting, and then just the fact that I would have 
ELLs. 

While saying that she was "surprised to see how different each program was," she 
also admitted that she "would have liked more details" about the information presented. 
In her write-up she concluded, "I really enjoyed getting the opportunity to watch the 
discussion panel. I loved hearing the answers to the questions about the change and 
growth in ELLs. . .1 wish that it was a longer and perhaps a more structured discussion." 
Based on her descriptions, I inferred that her reaction to the panel discussion video was 
that it was informative and beneficial, but may have fallen short of her expectations for 
more structured, detailed information. 

For the second field assignment, Jennifer chose to attend a Spanish church 
service. She told me she "enjoyed the cultural project." This experience also allowed her 
to gain a sense of empathy for what ELLs might be experiencing. In our second 
interview, shortly after she had completed the assignment, Jennifer told me about her 
experience at the Spanish service, along with her time in Mexico, and then reflected on 
those two experiences in an attempt to better understand what it may be like for ELLs 
here in the U.S. 



Yeah, and then of course you're going I'm here like only five days. . .so for an 
ELL that must be just amazing. Both when I went to Mexico and when I went to 
this, and I wrote this in my paper, I wasn't required to learn anything. I wasn't 
expected at some point to regurgitate information that I had learned, written or 

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whatever, a test. So you're not near under the pressure that they must be under 
when they're sitting there in class going, "I don't understand what you're saying, 
and you're going to test me on this in two weeks," or "I have a homework 
assignment, and I don't know what I am doing." But it was good. I mean we can't 
be in that exact experience. It was good to sort of get that opportunity to see that 
and also evaluate it. 

In her write-up, Jennifer described her emotional reactions to the experience in 
more detail. 



There are connections that transcend languages but it is difficult to feel connected 
to a group emotionally, intellectually and relationally when they are speaking a 
language you do not understand. . .1 felt great success when I greeted others with 
"ho la" instead of "hello." I was so proud of myself for my tiny achievement... 

I became bored toward the end because I could not understand the words. I could 
definitely see how an ELL would get frustrated and tune out if the lesson was 
proceeding faster than their comprehension. I was not frustrated because I knew I 
was not going to take a test on the material I heard. Intellectually I did not gain. . . 

Most of the time, I was lost. It really showed me how lost a person who does not 
speak English could be in America. I can imagine that an ELL would seek out 
people who speak their native language just so that they can relax for a few 
minutes and not have to work so hard to understand what's said. 

The lack of emotional connection was perhaps even more daunting than the 
intellectual separation. . .1 felt left out.. .It was awkward to see people become 
emotional but not know why and it was awkward to be emotional and not be able 
to share that emotion. 

Overall, the experience was wonderful. I felt many emotions that I did not expect. 
Everyone was kind and open but I felt out of place. I know that I did not get to 
feel what it is truly like for an ELL in an American public school classroom, but I 
did get a better understanding for what they must be feeling, how they must feel 
somewhat disconnected intellectually, emotionally and relationally. The event 
opened my eyes and helped me understand a new point of view but it also showed 
me that I prefer to understand those around me. 

The field assignment has taught me many things. I feel like it gave me a deeper 
understanding of what it is like for ELLs every day they attend school. I learned 
how they must feel left out, confused, frustrated and lonely. I knew that my time 
in a place where everyone understood each other and I did not understand them 
was just a short moment. ELLs have to face this day after day. . .1 know this 
experience will help me to sympathize with my students. . .This event brought me 
a better understanding of the intellectual, emotional and relational separation that 
ESL students experience. 

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Based on her detailed descriptions of her reactions to the cultural field 
assignment, it appeared to have had a positive impact on Jennifer. It was also the one 
experience from which I could infer an increase in her sense of empathy for ELLs. This is 
a great source of information for instructors and implies that revising the assignment to 
give TCs the necessary support to understand the field experiences may better foster adult 
learning and development. 

The third field assignment, the interview and observation, also seemed to make a 
positive impact on Jennifer. She interviewed the ELL coordinator at the school her 
children attended, and one still attends, and the same school in which she has subbed 
extensively. In her write-up she stated, "This experience had a huge impact on me. It 
made me desire to become an ELL teacher and removed most of my fear of instructing 
ELLs in an inclusive class environment." Based on other conversations, the final 
interview in particular, it was clear that those feelings of interest in being an ELL teacher 
waned dramatically. 

In our first interview, Jennifer stated that "it was very eye-opening to get to talk to 
her and to find out what they're doing in class and what she's done with the program." 
She came to realize that the influx of ELLs is a "huge issue right now and therefore saw a 
"real need to know that information." Conducting this interview and getting a glimpse 
into what things were like at the school with which she was familiar; Jennifer 
acknowledged that her learning would continue beyond just the ESL for Educators 
course. "I hope to get something from this class, but not to think that this class is gonna 
do it." 



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Overall, Jennifer reflected on her interview experience more than any other course 
activity. In her final reflection she wrote, "Interviewing her was one of the best 
opportunities I had in this class. Her passion for ELLs inspired me." It is important to 
note, though, that I did not find evidence that Jennifer conducted the observation that was 
meant to accompany the interview, which may have resulted in a different experience. 

In general, Jennifer responded positively to the field assignments. She referred to 
them often in our interviews and described them as "real learning experiences." The other 
course activity that invoked the greatest emotional response from Jennifer was the 
research paper, but not in a good way. 

I was confused on like what the purpose of the research paper was, because since 
it's not specific on what your topic is, other than having to relate somehow to 
ELLs. . .It may just be me, just because I'm very practical. I'm thinking, "Okay, 
I'm going to be out there teaching;" so I'm doing the research going, "Yeah, but 
what is this? How is this benefitting me, other than I'm going to get this paper 
done?" 

As her comments indicate, Jennifer struggled to see the purpose of the paper, which she 
felt was "busy work." 

I didn't see the purpose in the ten page paper. I think I could've read the 
information, and give me five pages on it and have collected just as much 
information other than trying to stretch it out to a ten to fifteen page paper and 
have it all in this specific format, and this specific way, and I'm like going, 
"Okay, I get the practice and the idea that this is a graduate class, but is this really 
benefitting me to do this research and figure out how to write it in this format, and 
turn it in to you? It just seemed like busy work, honestly. 

During our final interview, much of the conversation revolved around her 
negative feelings toward the research paper. It appeared as though she was subject to the 
experience at that point in time (Kegan, 1994). Her emotions had control over her and she 
was very upset, possibly because it was fresh in her mind. She struggled to take a step 

144 



back and reflect on the experiences without being tied to the emotions of it. She had a 
difficult time making the shift from subject to object with respect to the experience of 
writing the research paper. One of her concluding thoughts at the end of our final 
interview was expressed with utter frustration, "I don't really want to get a doctorate, and 
I don't have any. . .1 don't care if I'm every published; so, why am I writing ten page 
papers? Just tell me how to do the job." 

Aside from the research paper, I asked Jennifer about her reactions to the readings 
and whether there was something that stood out to her as being helpful or challenged her 
thinking. Her response was, "I can't think of anything in particular that I would say, 
'Wow! That was just something so new.'" She did not appear to appreciate the textbooks. 

I'm not as wild about the books for ESL. I mean they are okay. . .neither one of 
those books is like a textbook format. It's more difficult to go, 'Oh yeah, that was 
in chapter whatever' . . .or I can read this summary and go, 'Oh yeah that's this 
chapter.' And so it doesn't seem like either one of them does that great, which is 
weird. 

Jennifer said she preferred the sheltered content book (Echevarria & Graves, 2010) over 
the how languages are learned book (Lightbown & Spada, 2006). "The Sheltered Content 
one was better than the other one. The other one was interesting, but it was just, it felt 
like you were jumping, and of course, you are jumping back from book to book, which of 
course is adding to it." 

Jennifer's comments about the readings often reflected her preference for 
structure and layout versus content and ideas. However, in her final reflection she 
expressed an appreciation for the ideas presented in one chapter of the sheltered content 
text. 

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I felt like I was not getting enough practical information on how to instruct ELLs. 
This changed when I read chapter three of Sheltered Content Instruction. Here 
was the information I wanted. Reading about the SIOP model increased my 
confidence that I could instruct a class and instruct an ELL at the same time with 
proper planning. 

It is interesting to note that in reference to the SIOP (sheltered instruction 
observation protocol); additional links to SIOP materials were provided in the course 
shell as part of the required readings, which Jennifer admitted that she did not take the 
time to read. In our final interview she explained to me, 

I felt like I could have used in this class, and I did get some, but more practical 
information. I didn't feel like. . .1 felt like the SIOP would give me that, but we 
didn't really go deep into the SIOP. It's kind of like, "Well, check out SIOP." 
And I'm like going, "Yeah, when I have lots of time." When I get an ELL, I will 
be running to that website, I'm sure. I wouldn't have minded going deeper into 
that and seeing more practical information on how I would apply it. 

When I asked Jennifer about the online discussions, her reactions were mostly 
negative. "At first I was really intimidated." She described them as "awkward" and 
"time-consuming." She compared the online discussions to those that might take place in 
a classroom setting. "I understand why they have it on there, but I don't think it's as 
beneficial as if you were in the class and it's very time consuming." She explained to me 
that if she were in class, she could better "absorb what other people are thinking." 
Jennifer admitted to me that she spent much of her time reading and just trying to figure 
out which post to respond to. "I wasn't wild about the weekly question and answer. 
Sometimes it was just so much, and since it was a brand new idea every week, it was like, 
'Oh my gosh! I read all of this, and then I got to you know look at the question and see if 
I'm answering it, and I need to respond.'" 



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On the activity impact questionnaires, Jennifer did not rate any of the course 
activities at an average of four or higher. The activities she scored as the highest were (in 
order starting with the highest): field assignment two, field assignment one, field 
assignment three, final reflection paper, SIOP links, and journals. I found it interesting 
that the SIOP links made the list since she had admitted not spending time on it. It is 
possible she rated that higher based on the information she read about SIOP in the course 
text. 

Based on Jennifer's responses on the course activity impact questionnaires and 
our interview conversations, I would conclude that the three field assignments and 
reflections made the greatest positive impact on her. It made sense that she rated the 
reflection paper and journals towards the top since she talked to me about how the 
process of reflecting on her experiences helped her to remember what she learned. 
Perhaps she included the SIOP because it was that model of instruction that she perceived 
to give her the most practical ideas, which appeared to be of great importance to Jennifer. 

The activities that Jennifer rated at the bottom of her list, suggesting very low 
impact, were the developmental sequence writing samples, which were part of an online 
discussion, the exam, the research paper, and the text How Languages are Learned 
(Lightbown & Spada, 2006). Out of those activities, based on our conversations, I would 
conclude that the research paper resulted in the most negative emotional reaction from 
Jennifer. 



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Transitions and Quest for Balance 

Like Sofia and Kathy, Jennifer's background was in math and engineering. She, 
too, was experiencing a transition between the figured worlds of math/engineering and 
teaching/education. 

I actually started last January and I took. . .1 actually signed up for all four courses 
that they had for ALP and I was a week into it and went, "Oh my gosh! Can I do 
this?" And especially after whatever more than 25 years of not going to school 
and even with that. . .and of course not ever doing anything online but also just the 
intimidation of writing and not being a great writer and in mechanical 
engineering, I mean I can think of two papers I wrote. And they were scientific 
papers. They weren't looking at my grammar so much as they were looking if my 
equations were correct and they weren't trying to analyze how well I wrote the 
paper. 

Jennifer's struggles with language and writing, her background in engineering, 
and her lack of experience writing papers made the transition difficult and intimidating. 
Also, it was clear that the fact that it had been more than 25 years since she had been in 
school and her attempt to achieve balance in her life added to her anxiety. "At times I feel 
like I'm back and forth and it's been a long time since I've been in school. That and my 
daughter is like, 'help me study history.' It's been tough having all those sort of things 
too." 

In addition to referring to the time it had been since she was in school, Jennifer 

also referred to age in our conversations. For example, she would speculate about her age 

in relation to others'. "I'm probably a lot older than some of the people in the program." 

In another instance she said, "Other people I'm sure in the course are probably, for one, 

they're probably younger than me. . ." She admitted that she feared age had something to 

do with her ability. "I didn't answer the past couple of questions, 'cause I was like, 'I'm 

not sure what that was,' and that's the sad thing. I hope it's not just age, which is 

148 



probably a small possibility." This may indicate that she felt insecure about her age or 
that she was just speculating as to her position in life versus others in the class. Jennifer's 
uncertainty about who she was working with stresses the fact that the class did not create 
an environment conducive to personal connection. The course needs to be revised to find 
ways for the adult learners and the instructor to get to know each other to better foster 
those connections. 

Sense of Self 

It was apparent that Jennifer struggled to see the connection between what she 
learned in the ESL for Educators course and her role as a prospective math teacher. She 
appeared unable to see herself as teacher who would teach math and a teacher who would 
teach ELLs, which suggested she struggled with that aspect of her professional identity. 
On more than one occasion Jennifer made it clear that she was not going to be an English 
teacher. "I'm not planning on ever teaching English." She stressed that English was not 
relevant to her content area. 

I want a math paper. I mean there are times when you write things out like that 
you want to answer something in a full sentence, but that would be it. And then 
still you're more looking for a number and a label. You're not really looking for a 
grammatically correct sentence. 

Her comments at times were reflective of an "us versus them" perspective. If the 
topic was related to English, that was the ESL teacher's job; not hers. "I don't know how 
my comments on verb usage is really going to apply to me if I'm going to teach math and 
science. . .it seems like that would be more with the ESL teacher." Another example 
reflective of the separation between the ESL teacher and the regular classroom teacher 
was, 

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I just don't know when I would every apply this; especially as a secondary 
teacher, other than in the English class. I'm not even sure when everybody would 
apply this. Or, if I had ESL certification, then I could see applying it, because then 
I would be a certified teacher, and other teachers would be coming to me talking 
about it, or I would be going and seeing those individual students, but I 
didn't. . .my sense of this class was not that I was supposed to be getting 
certification, that I was just supposed to be getting an introduction to it. 

It was clear in our last interview that Jennifer was still unsure about the relevancy 
and connection between the content of the course and her secondary math content area. 

I was confused about. . .we went over such specific things on language acquisition, 
like the questions and all that stuff, and I'm sitting there going, "Okay, I'm 
planning on teaching secondary math, what really. . ., How would I even apply 
this? And when would I be ever grading their questioning? or When would I even 
be evaluating it, saying 'oh I think they're at this level?'" I had trouble 
understanding the need to know that so specifically in what I consider this class to 
be more of an introduction. . .And I'm like going, "Okay. I'm not an English 
teacher to begin with." So maybe if I were going to teach in English, that would 
be an important next step to make, but to sort of throw it in there, I was like 
confused going, "Am I really going to use this?" In math, there are very few times 
that you write a sentence at all. 

The fact that Jennifer was unable to see the relevance of the course content and 
material indicates a shortcoming of the course. The responsibility of learning the course 
content is shared between the instructor and the learner. The job of the instructor should 
be to learn the student and adjust the course accordingly to help facilitate learning and 
development. Revising the course so that the instructor can better get to know the adult 
learners is critical to the success of the course and the program. 

Jennifer and Received Knowledge 

In the study conducted by Belenky et al. (1986), they found that all of the 135 

women they interviewed "wanted some structure in their educational environments" (p. 

204). They concluded that "those who relied most heavily upon received knowledge 

favored the most clear-cut externally imposed pattern" (Belenky, et al., 1986, p. 204). My 

150 



interpretation of Jennifer's comments during our three interviews is that she craved 
structure, clear-cut expectations, and practical knowledge and therefore, was likely 
operating on some level as a received knower. 

As indicated early on in this portrait of Jennifer and her experiences during the 
semester of the study, motherhood appeared to be a very important aspect of her identity. 
Belenky, et al. (1986) concluded that, "often, parenthood initiates an epistemological 
revolution" (p. 35). Jennifer sought balance in her life between her role as a mother and 
her roles as student, worker, and educator. 

Similar to other received knowers, Jennifer expressed a sense of obligation for 
doing the "right thing" for herself and her children. As you saw earlier, Jennifer talked 
about not wanting her kids to lose their mom right after losing their dad. She continued 
that thought with, "I didn't want them to come home and mom's not home for another 
two hours, you know that sort of thing. And I kind of thought I would have a job by now 
but it just didn't work out that way. But that's fine and I'm just doing what I feel like I 
should be doing." This was a moral dilemma. When trying to solve moral dilemmas, 
received knowers have a tendency to use words such as "should" or "ought," which is 
what Jennifer did (Belenky, et al., 1986, p. 46). 

Received knowers typically "learn by listening" (Belenky, et al., 1986, p. 37). As 
I mentioned earlier in Jennifer's story about her reactions to online learning, she indicated 
that she preferred to "absorb" what others were saying. By listening to what others had to 
say, she felt she would learn. This type of thinking aligns somewhat with Perry's (1970, 



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1981) concept of dualism. However, the male participants in Perry's study focused more 
on lecturing than listening (Belenky, et al., 1986). 

While Jennifer did seem to focus on listening as a way of learning, I found 
evidence that she was operating in some ways within a dualistic framework (Perry, 1970, 
1981); similar to Baxter Magolda's (2001) absolute way of knowing and Kegan's (1982) 
instrumental way of knowing. In addition to viewing knowledge as right or wrong, good 
or bad, people operating under these ways of knowing tend to listen to authorities and 
view them as sources of truth. In Jennifer's case, she seemed to view teachers as sources 
of authority. There were several examples in the interview data that supported this claim. 
I shared one earlier about Jennifer's reactions to the research paper when she concluded, 
"Just tell me how to do the job." 

Similar examples came from conversations we had about online discussions. 
Jennifer said that one of her struggles with online learning was the fact that she could not 
figure out exactly where the teacher stood and therefore, was not sure where she should 
stand. 



<In a face-to-face class> you can analyze your fellow classmates and analyze 
your teacher, too. You would look and see which ones she positively reinforces 
and which ones she says, "Well, that's not the case" or. . .and you would be able to 
see where your teacher stood on some of the more controversial issues. . .In some 
ways you don't want to say something when you're not sure. And that is one of 
the difficulties being online. If you're in a classroom, you watch the instructor, 
you can tell what the instructor thinks, and you adjust your statement. You don't 
want your instructor to say, "Yeah, I totally disagree with that person" and as a 
result you're not getting a great grade. . .1 mean you're supposed to sort of write 
up your philosophy, and you're going, "I hope I'm not crunching with her 
philosophy." Maybe we're not supposed to mold like that, but you can at least be 
sensitive to it, you know, and knowing a little more about your teacher is not the 
worst thing in the world. Without direct instruction, I think it's good for the 
teacher to comment and write stuff. 

152 



Jennifer mentioned the lack of "direct instruction" on other occasions as well. She 
stressed the importance of receiving input from the instructor in online discussions 
because of the lack of direct instruction. 

We're not getting any direct instruction. If we were getting direct instruction, 
yeah let us talk about it, but we aren't receiving any direct instruction. . .1 think it's 
nice to get feedback, especially you know occasionally, on your discussion post, 
because you aren't sure if you're anywhere close. . .1 think when they do 
comment, "yeah, you're on the right track," or "think this way," or "you might 
want to read such and such's comment, because it was similar to yours." I think 
those are great, because it helps you to go, "Okay, I'm not totally missing it." 

In reference to the developmental sequence writing samples that were presented 
and discussed as part of a weekly threaded discussion, Jennifer expressed frustration and 
indicated that she would have preferred getting the answer. She responded, 

I would rather see the sample and have somebody else tell me about it. I'm not 
planning on ever teaching English, so I don't' intend to probably correct 
anybody. . .because I would not do that correctly. . .It wasn't bad to read the 
information. I just would have preferred getting more of just an answer. 

Received knowers "like predictability. They want to know what is going to 
happen when. They like clarity. They want to know exactly what they are expected to do 
- what they are 'responsible for'" (Belenky, et al., 1986, p. 42). One of Jennifer's 
statements in her final interview reflected a desire to know what was expected of her in 
the classroom. "I probably could have used a little more information on what the 
expectation for me, as a teacher in the class, would be." She continued later, "It would be 
nice to know what the expectations are. Are the expectations for me to come in and be the 
sole instructor for that child in my class? Or, am I just part of a group?" She appeared 
unsure of what she was "responsible for" in the classroom. For adult learners operating 
under this meaning-making system, revisions to the structure of the course would be 

153 



helpful. Making clear what is expected and what they are responsible for might make the 
experience less overwhelming and frustrating for them. 

A common theme in Jennifer's statements suggested that she was focused on 
doing what was required; not more and sometimes less. This could have stemmed from 
her tendency towards received knowing. Received knowers often "feel confused and 
incapable when the teacher requires that they do original work" (Belenky, et al., 1986, p. 
40). Doing simply what was required could have been a result of the fact that Jennifer 
was struggling to find balance and keep up with the mental demands of modern life 
(Kegan, 1994). She could have been afraid of failing. Whatever the reasons, it was a 
common theme that emerged throughout our conversations and therefore, deserves 
attention. 

As noted earlier, Jennifer had a strong negative reaction to the research paper and 
expressed that she did not see it as beneficial. "I could walk away and say, 'okay, maybe 
I could use that,' but the rest of it. . .was what was required. You know I did it because 
that's what was asked for." 

Similarly, as discussed under her reactions to SIOP, she admitted that she was not 
willing to do the work. Part of her rationale was that she was not teaching at the time, and 
therefore did not have a context to which she could apply what she was learning. This has 
implications for the role of the teaching context, but in Jennifer's case she may have 
believed that to be a legitimate reason for not doing what was asked of her. She said, "So 
unless I'm willing to do it on my own, and I'm sure. . .my thought was, well as soon as I 
get a class and am teaching, if I'm concerned, that will be an area I will go to." 

154 



Jennifer also grouped herself with other students and made an assumption that her 
thinking was in line with what other students thought. 

So I was like, "well, I'm not required to, don't have an application for it right 
now, because I'm not teaching, where I have an ELL, and I'm supposed to be you 
know helping that child," so. . .I'll get to that later when I do need to. You know, I 
think as students we want the information; we want to think that we go and dig 
deeper, but practically unless we are forced to do it at that moment, it's more of a, 
"okay, I've got this at the back of my mind. When I need it, I will go. . .," and 
that's fine. Until I'm in an actual classroom. . . 

Jennifer appeared to place the responsibility for her learning on the authorities 
rather than on herself. For example, while she admitted she had not read the syllabus 
ahead of time, she held the instructor responsible for not giving her more of a warning of 
when the second field assignment was due. She stated, "I would have loved to have had a 
little bit more cue ahead of time, because it just happened that I looked the week ahead 
and went, 'Oh! We have our next project due!' Because I hadn't really looked." 

At times the workload seemed to be too much for Jennifer. "I don't want to take 
another class! I don't want to take any extra classes that I don't have to." Jennifer even 
considered giving up altogether to avoid doing the work. "I was saying week 12, 'I think 
I just need to go get a job and skip all this -just not teach. It'll be easier not to have to 
finish this work.'" 

Based on the data, I found several of Jennifer's comments suggestive of a 
received way of knowing, which is why I explored it in greater detail. The insights I was 
able to gleam from her interviews highlighted for me the importance of taking adult 
learners' development into consideration when approaching course design and delivery. 



155 



Adjusting the presentation of the course to include more explicit expectations and 
instructions could have resulted in a more positive experience for Jennifer. 

Summary of Jennifer's Experiences 

My experience of Jennifer was that she wanted to do the right thing for herself, 
her kids, and her instructor. She seemed to be dealing with so much in her personal and 
professional life and at times it was almost too difficult for her to do it all. Having lost 
her husband to cancer only two years earlier, her four children were her primary concern. 
Jennifer was undergoing multiple transitions in her life, which caused her to question her 
identity and seek her place in the world. This ultimately led to the moral dilemma of how 
going to school and entering a new career would impact her perception of herself as a 
dedicated mother to her children. 

This online course did not appear conducive to Jennifer's learning, especially 
given her tendency toward being a received knower who learns best through listening to 
others; especially authorities. It was important to Jennifer to better understand her 
instructor, who she saw as one of her sources of authority. She sought to understand 
where her instructor stood on controversial issues so as not to clash with her views or 
philosophy. This proved to be difficult in this particular online course. 

While Jennifer struggled to find balance during this difficult time of transition and 
struggled to see the relevance and applicability of what she learned in the ESL for 
Educators course, she did report appreciating a few of the "real learning experiences:" the 
field assignments. 



156 



Because of Jennifer's rollercoaster of emotions, fluctuating confidence, and 
mixed reactions to the course activities, it is reasonable to assert that she did not have a 
transformational learning experience. It was clear to me that she challenged some of her 
previously-held assumptions and she was able to reflect on prior experiences with new 
knowledge and a new perspective. However, she was unable to apply what she learned 
and unable to even comprehend how she would apply her newly gained knowledge if she 
were teaching. Combined with the discrepancy of survey results, the uncertainty about 
whether or not her core attitudes and beliefs changed, and the uncertainty about whether 
or not how she thought about ELLs and the education of ELLs changed as a result of her 
participation in the course, leads me to conclude that Jennifer left the course with 
considerable anger and confusion and did not have a transformational experience. 

Patricia 
Background 

Patricia is a married mother of one young child in her late 20 's. During the time 
of the study, she was in her third year of teaching high school science at a local charter 
school while simultaneously taking classes for the ALP program for secondary science. 
She earned a B.A. in chemistry and biology and pursued teaching as a career because she 
said she loves kids. "I wanted to stay in a science related profession and I loved building 
confidence and self- worth into teenagers. Science tends to be very daunting for a lot of 
kids and showing them that it can be so fun and interesting is very rewarding." 

Patricia grew up in Alaska around a population which she described as 
predominantly white and Alaskan Indian (Inuit). She really enjoyed growing up there and 

157 



greatly appreciated the cultural traditions of the Inuit people, but she was saddened how 
the Alaskan natives were often living in poverty and suffered from alcoholism. 

I absolutely loved it. I thought it was amazing. Just because I went to a great 
school where they really celebrated that culture because it was such a great 
portion of the population they were involved with a lot of that kind of connection 
in the curriculum and so I went to an elementary school. . .we had these ballets 
where they would make into these cultural days and we'd go to class and make 
crafts and different cultural things. And there was cooking involved of native 
foods from the Inuits and had many teachers that were Alaskan natives; so I felt 
like it was amazing. However, I would say the only negative part that I 
experienced was that a lot of the natives kind of like the American Indians would 
sadly turn to alcoholism and poverty, too. . .a lot of them were living in poverty 
unless they were working for the oil companies. That was the only exception. 
They were impoverished unless they were working for ARCO or something like 
that. 

I asked Patricia about her exposure to the Inuit language. She mentioned that she 
picked up a little bit through exposure, but more than the language, Patricia appeared to 
appreciate the culture and cultural traditions. She said that she may even want to go back 
to Alaska one day to teach. 

The classroom, everything was done in English, but outside of school I'd hear 
Inuit. I learned a little bit here and there, but mostly that was isolated to the 
cultural events that we went to. We had a lot of cultural events outside of school 
that involved their tribal traditions. It was fun. I kind of think it would be really 
neat to go back there and teach in one of the remote regions. I really enjoyed it 
and I had some great friends that were Inuit and so I really grew an appreciation 
for the culture. 

Patricia moved to Colorado when she was 16. Other than her dream of potentially 

moving back to Alaska to teach, she indicated that she would likely stay in Colorado 

unless her husband's work takes them elsewhere. "I think I probably will stay. I think that 

probably depends on. . .my husband's doing his master's in physics right now; so he will 

be finishing that next year, and so if he gets a job in a different state that might determine 

where we live." 

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Patricia grew up knowing Spanish, but felt that it had slipped away over time. Her 
father was half Mexican and half Apache Indian and he spoke to Patricia and her brother 
and sister in Spanish when they were younger. 

He was raised in a Spanish-speaking house, but he was raised in New Mexico and 
California and everybody in the family, he has six brothers and sisters and they 
are all fluent in Spanish, and his mother is full-blooded Apache Indian and his 
father was full-blooded Mexican, and so they typically spoke Spanish at home. 
Any time they spoke English was when they were in school. . .So he taught us a 
lot in Spanish. My sister was younger and she didn't get as much as my brother 
and I did, but he would speak to us in Spanish probably until my early 
adolescence when my parents divorced and he separated from the family. 

Patricia also studied some Spanish in high school, but she admitted that her focus 
was not on learning Spanish, but rather on science. Her basic knowledge of the language, 
though, helped her to understand some of her Spanish-speaking students. 

At that point I was in high school and I was taking Spanish classes and my focus 
mentally was more on my other academics like science, and I didn't really care a 
whole lot about my Spanish classes, unfortunately. I wish I would have, but it 
slipped away 'cause I didn't practice it. So now when I hear my students talk in 
Spanish I can understand a good bit of what they said, but I can't understand the 
whole thing and I could pick up words here and there based on all of. . .and the 
pattern of speech and the way the words are organized that sometimes makes 
sense to me. But overall I don't have any fluency and understanding of it 
anymore. 

Teaching Experience 

As I mentioned, Patricia was in her third year of teaching high school science at a 
local charter school. She described additional teaching-related experience on her 
background questionnaire. "Before teaching I worked as a research assistant in the lab at 
<a local university. > I also have worked with kids afflicted with Reactive Attachment 
Disorder. I have a few years of experience working at treatment centers for at-risk 



159 



adolescent girl populations." Patricia rated her overall teaching experience at two and a 
half out of five, slightly higher than a novice. 

Patricia had quite a bit of experience working with ELLs. She had ELLs in every 
class, every semester of her three years teaching at her current school; including the 
semester of the study. "I have had the opportunity to work with many ESL students from 
a wide variety of cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. The vast majority of ESL 
students I work with in my classroom are Hispanic; however, I work with the occasional 
'study abroad' student from countries such as Cuba, Korea, China, Lebanon, etc." 

Patricia described feeling anxious and unprepared to teach her ELLs because she 
had no prior training on how to work with linguistically diverse learners. In our first 
interview she explained, "I think for the most part I felt anxiety actually because I didn't 
know what was the appropriate way to effectively teach kids that barely knew the 
language." She insisted that she was "not an expert" and described feeling "completely 
unprepared." 

Patricia had more experience working with ELLs in the U.S. school system than 
any other participant. Even though she had experience, due to her lack of training and 
uncertainty, she rated her confidence to teach them low at two out of five. In our first 
interview she discussed her hopes for the course. "I think the most helpful for me is to 
figure out exactly what strategies I can start implementing in my classroom that will be 
effective. That's really what my interest in this course is. What can I do tomorrow?" 



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Beliefs and Understandings about Linguistic Diversity 

Patricia rated her confidence in teaching ELLs as low. However, she rated her 
interest in having ELLs in her classroom higher at a four out of five. Based on our 
conversations, Patricia had some assumptions about CLD learners, some of which she 
challenged in the ESL for Educators course. 

Patricia discussed what she described as disparities between the Hispanic 
students and the non-Hispanic ELLs. 

So there's a huge distinction between the way the Hispanic students are and the 
way the rest of the ELLs seem to be; from a motivation perspective, too. And 
unfortunately the Hispanic kids, I don't know if it's self-efficacy issue for them, I 
kind of feel like it is, or if it's a cultural thing, but especially for the boys that they 
don't really want to be good at school necessarily, because it's not something 
that's of value in their culture, it seems like. It's just very different between the 
ELLs. 

Some of these perceptions may have been influenced by her experiences with her 
father. The fact that he left the family when she was in ninth grade appeared to impact the 
way Patricia thought about the Hispanic students, the male students and their fathers in 
particular. 

I think that my dad was probably what I feel might be a typical Hispanic male. 
And maybe that's negative. Maybe I see it in a negative light because of what my 
experiences were in my childhood especially. I see a lot of similarities between 
the way he was and the way that some of my Hispanic students are and Hispanic 
father figures are. They're very uninvolved unless it's a discipline issue and they 
expect the women to do a lot of the work and they don't value education that 
much. It seems like it's, to me, and I don't mean to put any racial profiling on 
them, but my experience has been that they can be a bit self-centered and 
patriarchal to an extent that's not helpful to the child. 

Many of Patricia's understandings about her CLD learners in the beginning of the 
course involved a separation of the Hispanic students and "others." Her above comments 



161 



are reflective of that. She expressed similar observations in her initial journal entry as 
well. "Students from other countries seem to work harder and have greater motivation to 
learn the language." 

One of the assumptions that Patricia revealed to me in our first interview was that 
ELLs "needed more to catch up in the language before they could even attempt to 
understand the academic material." This was an area in which she reported being 
"uncertain" on her Language Attitudes of Teachers Scale (LATS). She expressed being 
unsure whether or not the learning of English for ELLs should take precedence over 
learning subject matter. However, she responded that the rapid learning of English should 
not be a priority if it meant losing the ability to speak their native language. To support 
that sentiment of embracing one's language and culture, in the conclusion of her initial 
journal entry Patricia wrote, 

Allowing the ESL student the opportunity to take pride their own cultural 
background and language sets the ESL student at ease in the realization that they 
do not have to leave their origins behind; they can embrace a new language while 
retaining a sense of where they came from and who they are. 

Overall, Patricia's survey results revealed that she was quite tolerant of linguistic 
diversity. Patricia strongly supported the idea of the government providing money to fund 
better programs for ELLs and was strongly in favor of teachers receiving training on how 
to meet the needs of linguistically diverse learners. In fact, a common theme throughout 
our conversations and within Patricia's reflections was that of training and the great need 
for more of it. One of her first comments to me in our first interview was, "With the little 
reading we've done in the class so far I think it's been really eye-opening to understand 



162 



the huge impact that it can have of just more training. I was actually surprised at the lack 
of training that is involved." 

Reported Changes as a Result of Course Participation 

In the beginning of the course Patricia reported having very little to some 
knowledge on most topics on the Knowledge of ELL issues survey. Two of the 
statements did not fall under those categories, though. She perceived herself to have 
"quite a bit of knowledge" about the local ELL population, possibly due to her 
experience, but "no knowledge" about local resources or organizations that serve ELLs 
and their families. 

Upon completing the course, her ratings of those two items did not change much. 
She felt that she still had "quite a bit of knowledge" of the local ELL population, but her 
perceived knowledge of local resources to help them increased slightly from "no 
knowledge" to "very little knowledge." For the remaining eight topics, her scores 
changed from "very little knowledge" and "some knowledge" at the beginning to "quite a 
bit of knowledge" and "extensive knowledge" at the end. In fact, on six of the ten topics 
she rated herself as having "extensive knowledge" after completing the course. 

Patricia's LATS score increased by four points from the beginning to the end of 
the semester. The changes in responses were only by one degree of agreement in each 
case. For example, on the pre-semester survey she answered "strongly disagree" to a 
statement, which she changed to "disagree" on the post-semester survey. So her overall 
attitudes did not appear to change; just the level of strength of the agreement or 
disagreement changed. 

163 



Patricia did change one of the statements from "uncertain" to "disagree," 
however. Originally she reported being unsure about whether "At school, the learning of 
the English language by non- or limited-English proficient children should take 
precedence over learning subject matter." By the end she reported feeling that learning 
English should not take precedence over learning academic content, an assumption which 
she challenged as a result of her participation in the course. 

Over the course of the semester, Patricia mentioned several "aha moments" or 
"big revelations" that came about due to her course experiences. In our mid-semester 
interview she reported, 

I think that part of the big revelation for me so far has just been that for these ELL 
students I have to be thinking about the whole student and not just the language, 
but what else are they experiencing at home that's affecting. . . what else are they 
experiencing in life that could be affecting where they are at right now? If they 
are living at a poverty level, then that primary need will go before anything else. 
Before they can begin to feel like they can take in information, they need to have 
their primary needs met first. . .1 think that's been the big thing is that it's not just 
the language component, but there are so many other components that are 
involved in their ability to retain and learn information. 

She reflected on the disparity she described earlier between the Hispanic students and 
"other ELLs" through a new lens. 



A great example I have of that is I have one Korean student who came in not 
knowing any English whatsoever. I mean he couldn't speak any English at all. 
He's an exchange student, and he's staying with a family - you know an 
American family. On the other hand, I have the student who I was talking about 
before, who knows barely any English, and he's Hispanic, and he's probably 
living at poverty level right now. And there is a huge difference in the amount of 
growth that I see between the two boys. The Korean student is passing in full 
sentences now, and he is completing assignments at the same level as other 
students in the class, except with grammar mistakes and spelling mistakes. It's 
incredible how much progress he's made versus the Hispanic student who has 
been in public education for years now, who is speaking. I'm certain of it that 
they speak only Spanish at home, and he's living at poverty level, and I think 

164 



there is some gang and drug involvement with him, and he's made virtually no 
progress. Its' those situations that I look at, and it's not just the language 
component; it's everything else that you have to be thinking about when you 
teach these kids. 

Her new awareness revolved around the importance at looking at all of the 
potential factors affecting the child; not just the language component resulted in an 
emotional reaction from Patricia. As mentioned in the results chapter, in our final 
interview Patricia reported feeling sad as she reflected on previous experiences with 
ELLs from a new perspective based on her new knowledge. She described a specific 
experience that caused her to feel sad. 

Well, I had this female student two years ago, and she was absolutely silent 
through the whole entire semester - didn't turn in any work, you know, just didn't 
do anything. And I didn't know what to think of it. And I would see her sitting 
with Hispanic friends, and I just wasn't sure what was going on there - if it was 
lack of motivation, if there was a home things going on. . .1 wasn't sure, and she 
wouldn't let me in. I would try to interact with her, and there was just nothing. 
And she didn't interact with any of her other peers too. So looking back, I've seen 
her this previous semester in other classes, and I've talked to other teachers, and 
she's starting to talk. She was like that in other classes as well; it wasn't just mine 
that she was like that in. Maybe I could have employed some sort of appreciation 
for her culture, and her identity, and where she came from. . .just to make sure she 
is feeling welcome in class, because when I hit her with questions about material, 
she's probably really overwhelmed because she doesn't understand what's going 
on. If I would've gone back. . .if I could do it over, I would've done everything 
that I could have to make her feel welcome first and comfortable in the classroom. 
And then I would've, at that point, tried to address the language and where she 
was at with her language maybe. 

When I asked her if there was something specific from the course that made her 
think differently about that experience, she replied, 



Well, the silent stage in language theory is definitely where that thought started to 
arise and then affective barriers. Affective issues really put all of that together for 
me; at least that one instance. . .Comprehensible input was probably - I mean I 
think that was one of the huge ideas for me to get into my head, was that anything 
that I present to them really needs to be comprehensible to them, so I need to 
make sure that I can assess their levels of content and language knowledge, and 

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then combine those things together and make sure that I am presenting 
information in a way that they can understand; so that was huge. And that's part 
of the sadness, too, that I could' ve been doing that instead of probably presenting 
material that was way above their head, that they couldn't even grasp, because 
they didn't have the foundation, whether it was because of previous learning 
experience, previous background, whatever it was. 

Not only did Patricia reflect on prior experiences through a new lens and develop 
new understandings and beliefs about her students, she appeared to have taken on a more 
global perspective about how the education of her ELLs could potentially impact society 
as well. 

I think it's hugely important that we don't address, in science specifically, the 
needs of ELL students. They are not ever going to have the chance to be in 
careers that are related to science and technology, because math and science are 
traditionally, it sounds like from the statistics, the hardest subjects for them to 
gain proficiency in. And so, if they can get to proficiency in these content areas, 
then that increases our chances of having those guys in those professions later on. 
And in the country, we can stay the leader in those fields. I think it's hugely 
important as a society. That was the big breakthrough for me is that this is not 
only important because we have ELL students in our classroom. This is important 
because it affects our society as a whole if we don't address this population, 
because they're increasing so quickly. 

Because Patricia was teaching during the time of the study, like Kathy, she was 
able to take what she was learning in the course and directly apply it to her teaching 
context. Therefore, not only did she change her beliefs and understandings about 
linguistic diversity, she also changed her teaching practice. When I asked her in our final 
interview if she had been able to do things differently in her classroom, she responded, 

I have. I have been able to do some things differently. I've really made an effort 
to try to know the kids on a personal level, especially those ELL kids and make 
sure we talk about their home life and not in an invading way, but just "what do 
you like to do when you have free time?" kind of thing. Trying to really 
incorporate them in the classroom with cooperative learning strategies and 
making sure they are interacting with each other and not just within their group 
but also getting to know the other kids that are of different backgrounds in the 
classroom. It's not just about them getting to know other kids; it's about other 

166 



kids getting to know them, too; so that they can go to class and really feel 
comfortable in that sense. 

Not only was Patricia able to make changes to her teaching practice, but as 
mentioned in chapter four, she was also able to take what she learned and, along with her 
principal, provide trainings to other teachers in her school about sheltered content 
instruction techniques. "We need something in place," she told me. She reiterated the fact 
that teachers need more training, which she felt more strongly about after going through 
the training process. "I'm super excited about it, and we'll see what happens. I think that 
a lot of the teachers were ... I think we just need more training. You know, teachers just 
need so much more training on how to implement the SIOP model into their classrooms." 
Patricia also expressed a need for "more observation time." Watching someone who was 
skilled in that area would be "hugely beneficial," according to Patricia. 

The process of translating course activities into leadership resulted in a great deal 
of learning for Patricia. "That's where a lot of the learning for me has taken place." She 
continued to say, "I think a lot of the things that I've been learning about have happened 
at work and delving into the book, the actual textbook that we have in this class, and 
applying a lot of the concepts to what we're trying to improve at our school." I will 
describe Patricia's reactions to each of the course activities more specifically in the next 
section. 

Over the course of the semester, Patricia reported having gained not only 
knowledge, but confidence to teach ELLs. Her reported level of confidence increased 
from a two to a four out of five and her reported interest in working with ELLs increased 
as well from a four to a five out of five. On her mid-semester journal entry she wrote, 

167 



At the half-way point in the semester I have been able to accumulate a variety of 
tools and knowledge that will allow me to better serve English language 
learners. . .At this point in the semester I feel a bit more at ease when addressing 
some of the challenges that ELL students struggle with because I am able to 
analyze behaviors and patterns and then address the issue by using components of 
the SIOP model. 

In her final interview she described feeling "empowered" and more confident. "I feel like 
I can do it." She reported on her final questionnaire that the ESL for Educators course 
prepared her very well to meet the needs of her ELLs. However, she wished there had 
been more practical application incorporated. 

The course was very informative and helpful as a foundation for understanding 
the needs and complexities of ELL students in the mainstream classroom. I only 
wish I could have practiced more application within assignments to be more 
comfortable with teaching using sheltered content instruction. 

Specific Reactions to Course Activities 

Patricia found the information presented in the ELL directors panel discussion 
video, the first field assignment, surprising for a couple of reasons. In her write-up she 
explained, "One of the most surprising factors that the panel discussion allowed me to 
become aware of was the complexity of providing services for large populations of ELL 
students." She was also surprised for another reason. "My general reaction to the panel 
discussion was surprise at how much I did not know." 

In her write-up, Patricia mentioned again her thoughts on the need for more 
training. "As a teacher, it forced me to consider the fact that all teachers probably need to 
have an LDE endorsement, or many hours of some type of ESL training to ensure that 
they know how to appropriately accommodate the growing population of ESL students." 
She said, "Now when we watched that panel discussion I was kind of happy to see that 



168 



they were starting to require the LDE endorsement to hire teachers, is what it sounded 
like." 

During our mid-semester interview she discussed her reactions to the video in 
terms of the resources that are needed to properly educate ELLs. 

The first field assignment on the video, I think my take on that was just that there 
needs to be a huge amount of resources put into ELL programs across the nation 
to be able to make it something that is effective. It just seems like they had so 
much to conquer, so much to. . .so many students that needed help and not enough 
resources across the board. I think that was the big revelation that I had with that. 

To conclude her thoughts on the first field assignment, Patricia expressed to me in 
our final interview that she gained a lot from the panel discussion. "I gained a lot from 
the panel, because it was just - I didn't know anything about it, and that was my first 
glimpse into what it was really like." As a result, she rated the panel discussion on the 
activity impact questionnaire as having the greatest impact on her thinking. 

For the second field assignment, the cultural experience, her reactions were more 
personal. She described feeling "out of place" and at times "unwanted." Those feelings 
caused her to grow in her sense of empathy and understanding for ELLs. In her write-up 
she described her experience. 

I decided to attend a Jewish Temple to experience a language that is completely 
foreign to any of my previous experiences. Being exposed to Catholicism and 
Christianity, I have virtually no knowledge of the Jewish faith or the Hebrew 
language. . .My experience led me to believe that ELL students in the United 
States and elsewhere may feel very lost and frightened in the beginning, as well as 
ostracized from the mainstream culture. . .Although attending the service on a 
night of Yom Kippur was uncomfortable at times, I was set more at east by being 
able to meet and converse with a woman next to me who was kind enough to 
share her prayer book. . .Although I felt out of place, I can imagine that being the 
only one who is unfamiliar with the language would make me feel less confident 
and more frightened as would ELL students facing this type of situation. 

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There seems to be an underlying theme of responsibility of the Jewish faith to 
hold on to the exclusivity of their culture and religion. This discussion led me to 
feel very uncomfortable and out of place. I felt unwanted at the Temple as a result 
of this discussion. 

Culture, language and religion are key to a person's identity. When an individual 
is immersed in another language/culture they may have to face the questioning of 
their own identity. My analysis of the experience in the Jewish Temple led me to 
believe that it is of the utmost importance to make a student feel welcome and 
wanted. 

When I asked Patricia about whether or not her experience at the Jewish temple 
caused her to reflect on some of her previous experiences differently, her response was, 

Oh, absolutely! Absolutely, because you're in this just a completely different 
world; and nothing makes sense, because it's a totally different environment, and 
interaction with each other; and everything is different. And I didn't really realize 
that it was that different, and that it was so dependent on having a welcoming 
environment. That's probably one of the biggest reasons I feel sad right here is 
because I was so concentrated on content, content, content, and I didn't think in 
that way at that time. 

For field assignment three, the interview and observation, Patricia rated that 
activity as making the second greatest impact on her, second to the panel discussion 
video. However, she only mentioned her experiences briefly in our final interview. "I 
gained a lot from that last observation that I did. I really tried to apply the components of 
the SIOP model to analyze that lesson plan, and I got a lot out of it by doing it that way." 
This statement combined with Patricia's write-up and analysis of the experience 
highlighted what I considered to be Patricia's analytical nature. I will discuss this in 
further detail later in this portrait. 

Patricia responded favorably to the field assignments in general. In addition, she 
also reacted positively to the readings, writings and reflections. "One of the biggest 
things about the course is all of the increased awareness through the readings and I think 



170 



the writings, the essays and the reflections." Opposite of Jennifer, Patricia described the 
research paper as a great learning experience for her; possibly the best. "That final 
research paper was probably the best learning experience that I had in the class, and that 
just might be because of the way I work." She expanded on that notion of how she works 
and the type of learner she is in an earlier interview. 

The field work and the journal, those are really where I'm getting the most 
benefits from. And I think maybe that has to do with just how I am as a learner. 
When I write, I tend to have little luck if any developing things as I write; and so 
maybe that helps me develop my ideas as opposed to writing on a direct topic in a 
discussion. 

With respect to the readings, she indicated that she found them valuable and 
beneficial to her learning and to her teaching. 

Both of the <textbooks> to me are pretty valuable. The theories are what are 
incredibly enlightening just to me. It really allowed me to look at my students and 
say, "Okay, so this is what might be going on here." Like the affective barrier 
theory, or hypothesis. Some of those ideas were really important for me to look at 
as a cause and then as a way to near myself towards the solution. So if they're 
distracted by all these other things or overwhelmed by all these other things, what 
can I do to make that easier for them? Or, how can I get through that so that we 
conquer what we need to conquer? So, a lot of those things are causes of 
behavior; they are extremely important I think to learn about, because then you 
can think about how you can guide your teaching to you know directly assess 
those issues. 

When I inquired as to whether there was any particular activity that had 
contributed most to her shifts in thinking, she referred to the sheltered content instruction 
textbook (Echevarria & Graves, 2010) and again mentioned the importance of the 
theories she learned about. 



I think it was when we went over the theories that I first started thinking about all 
of this stuff. That was where it started, and then we got to the chapter on affective 
issues. So that was chapter four, and I would say sheltered instruction, the SIOP 
chapter was extremely useful, because it was like here we have all of these 

171 



theories and chapter three where we talk about the SIOP model and how am I 
going to assess all of those different possibilities of what could be happening 
there, and what could be in play there. So, the SIOP model was cool, because it 
just gave me all of these ideas for how to individually pick out things that would 
be good for specific students. 

In general, Patricia appeared to appreciate each of the readings, but showed a 
definite preference for the sheltered content instruction book (Echevarria & Graves, 
2010). Not only did she learn a lot from it, but she was also able to apply what she 
learned from it to her students and her classroom. And beyond that, she used that book as 
a resource for the training that she conducted with her principal for her fellow teachers. 

Another course activity that Patricia and I discussed was the online discussion 
component of the course. Patricia reported being very comfortable with the online 
learning environment both at the beginning and the end of the course. However, she did 
not indicate that the online discussions were beneficial. Patricia had taken other courses 
online before and described her reaction to online discussions in general in our first 
interview. 

So my experience with the online classes is that in the discussions in particular 
some discussions can be very eye-opening and others I kind of feel like I'm just 
trying to find something to talk about. I think it depends, I actually think how well 
the courses work out hugely depends on the questions that are asked in the 
discussion. 

At the mid-way point in the semester she had formed an opinion about the online 
discussions in this particular course, which she described as "repetitive" and "not very 
challenging." "I have not obtained a lot from them." In our interview she described a 
couple of examples and offered her opinion about the type of discussion prompt that 
would be more conducive to an in-depth discussion. 



172 



Well I think that within the last couple of weeks, it just seems like a lot of people 
say. . .like the discussion on power imbalances, I kind of felt like everybody had 
the same thing to say, which isn't a bad thing. It just meant that I didn't see any 
other way to really talk about it as far as examples. In the classroom, what could 
you see as examples of it in the classroom? And, how might you assess those or 
change or adapt to those situations? I just kind of felt like everybody talked about 
the same thing - about the student becoming quiet. And, how do you put that back 
and balance it back. It just seemed like you know everybody was saying the same 
thing. I didn't get a whole lot out of it just because of that. That's just one of the 
examples. It might be just that it's the. . .it's not the students necessarily, like, I 
don't know if the students are feeding off of each other maybe, maybe a little bit. 
I think some of that happens in online classes where they see somebody say 
something, and "Oh, that sounds good, so maybe I'll add onto that a little bit." 
You kind of expand on each other, which is great, but it decreases the variety of 
the responses. Maybe, taking a big topic and offering options within that topic to 
talk about. For instance, this week. . .this week was good; because of. . .it's like 
asking you to pick a couple of the strategies that you find that are important 
basically. So, there's a drawback to this. What I saw already is that people were 
choosing a couple of the strategies that were at the very beginning of the reading 
- that's where they were in the reading. And then some of the people had some 
that were further in the reading. I don't know. . .1 think that option is better, when 
you have different things to go off of and not just one question that everybody is 
responding to, you know what I mean? 

In our final interview Patricia reflected on the online discussions overall and 
offered suggestions for how they might be improved. 

The one thing that was difficult for me, too, that at times felt like busy work, were 
the discussions. If I were to change things, if I was in control of the class, I would 
probably break it down into two week discussions instead of one week 
discussions, and I would have it a really in-depth question that they have to do a 
reading on, or that they have to analyze a bit before answering it, because I kind 
of felt like I could go on and do it in about 20 minutes thoughtfully, but at times, I 
didn't have that time to go on as frequently to respond to people, to really get into 
it in that week time frame, because in the middle of the week I'm planning and 
grading. . .1 would extend it to two weeks and give it a more in-depth question. 

Part of Patricia's reaction to the online learning environment and the online 
discussions appeared to be influenced by instructor participation. In our first interview 
she described the instructor participation as "extremely helpful;" especially since she had 
not seen that level of instructor participation in her previous online courses. 

173 



I think the weekly discussions, and actually I've never had an instructor respond 
back in discussions before. They just kind of monitor the discussions. . .to actually 
see <Eva> respond back to everybody this last week with really in-depth 
observations and comments. . .1 think that was extremely helpful and I just haven't 
seen that before in either of my other classes. So that's probably something that 
would really help everybody. 

In our mid-semester interview, Patricia commented on the feedback she was 
getting from the instructor on her papers, which she again found helpful. 

I've been getting good feedback on the papers. I really appreciate that there's, you 
know, comments. She wrote five comments in the margin that she's re-uploading. 
Again, I haven't had a professor do that for either. I've just had a grade posted. 
So, that's really nice to see feedback on there; and I'm liking that. I'm 
appreciating it, and I'm getting a lot from it, so that's good. 

However, when the topic of feedback came up again later in that interview, she indicated 
a sense of disappointment that her instructor's decreased participation in the online 
discussions. She reflected on how it was at the beginning of the semester. "Like the first 
one or two times she was responding within the week that the discussion was occurring, 
and it was really, really good that time. So that would be my feedback on that." She 
empathized with her instructor, though. "I'm sure that's really difficult. I know what 
that's like, having to be grading things and doing things as they are happening, and I 
realize that it's just a lot." 

The way Patricia rated the course activities on the activity impact questionnaires 
seemed to be in line with the way she described her reactions in our interviews. Out of 
the activities that she rated at an average of four or higher out of five, this was the order 
in which she put them (starting with the activities that she rated the highest): field 
assignment one (panel discussion), field assignment three (observation/interview), self- 
reflection paper, research paper, sheltered content instruction textbook, journals, 

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instructor feedback/participation/input, field assignment two, and the how languages are 
learned textbook. 

Sense of Self 

Throughout our three interviews, Patricia rarely talked about herself on a personal 
level. She responded to the questions posed and offered insights into the type of learner 
and teacher she was, but did not tend to offer additional personal information. Therefore, 
it was more difficult to determine what Patricia's sense of herself was. When I analyzed 
the interview data for "I-statements," I only found a few. She described herself as "Type 
A" and "detail-oriented" with a need to "plan, plan, plan, plan, plan." That was it. The 
rest of Patricia's sense of self had to be inferred from other types of statements. 

Patricia and Procedural Knowing 

My overall impression of Patricia was that she was thoughtful, analytical, logical, 
and pragmatic. Our first two interviews were conducted on the phone and our final 
interview was conducted in person. My reactions to our phone interviews were that they 
were very straight-forward and to the point. When we met in person and had the 
opportunity to chat on a more personal level, I was able to get a more personal sense of 
Patricia. I found her to be very friendly, positive, optimistic, and kind- spirited. She 
appeared calm and yet enthusiastic about what she was doing for her students. 

When I read through the women's ways of knowing (Belenky, et al., 1986), I 
found several aspects of the procedural way of knowing reflected in Patricia's statements, 
assignment write-ups and reflections. I was particularly struck by the synopsis that 
"procedural knowers are practical, pragmatic problem-solvers. . .Their feet are planted 

175 



firmly on the ground. They are trying to take control of their lives in a planned, deliberate 
fashion" (Belenky, et al., 1986, p. 99). While I do not claim to understand how she 
approached her life in general, I felt as though I had a good sense of the ways she 
approached her teaching, and the above statement accurately reflected my sense of 
Patricia. 

Similar to participants in Belenky et al.'s (1986) study, Patricia tended to favor 
"reasoned reflection" (p. 88), which was similar to Perry's (1970) concept of "critical 
reasoning." An example that stood out to me was in Patricia's write-up of the cultural 
field experience. She wrote, "In my analysis of the experience in the Jewish Temple. . ." 
She appeared to take a step back from her experience to reflect on it in a reasoned, 
analytical and objective way. 

Taking an objective stance on this and other experiences was a common action for 
Patricia and common to procedural knowers in general. "Procedural knowledge is more 
objective than subjective" (Belenky, et al., 1986, p. 98). Because of this, my 
interpretation of Patricia was that she did not struggle to make subject-object shifts 
(Kegan, 1994), at least not in our conversations. In fact, I did not find a single instance 
where Patricia appeared subject to her experiences. There was only one time in my 
analysis that I hastily indicated a subject stance. It stemmed from this statement in our 
final interview: "Does it just sound like I'm a nervous wreck right now!?" However, she 
followed up that statement with, "I'm not really. I just try to be very thorough with what 
steps I take." The full statement revealed a more objective stance. 



176 



Procedural knowers tend to be "absorbed in the business of acquiring and 
applying procedures for obtaining and communicating knowledge"(Belenky, et al., 1986, 
p. 95). While the degree of involvement in that process may vary from person to person, 
"the emphasis on procedures, skills, and techniques was common to all" (Belenky, et al., 
1986, p. 95). The fact that Patricia acknowledged that she was thorough and detail- 
oriented with a need to plan things in a structured, organized way, was in line with the 
procedural way of knowing. One example of this was reflected in a statement she made 
about lesson plans in our final interview. "I really need something very straightforward to 
look at at the beginning of the day, where I can see bullet points, and I could just go 
through those - just as a review before I get started." 

Another process of procedural thinking which Patricia appeared to espouse was 
that by increasing her knowledge and skills, she was able to "experience an increasing 
sense of control. The world becomes more manageable" (Belenky, et al., 1986, p. 96). 
While Patricia expressed a sense of anxiousness about changing her lesson plans to meet 
the needs of her students because of the newness of it all, she appeared to maintain a 
sense of control. 

Well, that's what this Christmas break is about for me, because I have such a 
large population of ELLs, I am changing a lot of my lesson plans, all of my lesson 
plans, my daily lesson plans to include strategies that will allow me to address 
their needs. I'm anxious and nervous about how to structure those lesson plans. I 
mean I can use the SIOP model as a guide, but we have a template to follow 
already at our school, so I'm trying to figure out, and it includes language 
objectives in there, but it's more along the lines of, "how can I redo my daily 
agenda?" in a way that I can make sure that all of their needs are being assessed. 

It seemed to help that she had a plan from the very beginning and she stuck with it. In our 
final interview she said, "I think I started the semester, just 'How am I going to make this 

177 



benefit me in the classroom now?' and I think I just geared myself that way the whole 
time, and in that way it was very, very helpful." 

Based on Patricia's perceived gain in knowledge, she described being able to 
better analyze her students, where they might be coming from, and what factors might be 
affecting them in school. This phenomenon is common to those who have tendencies 
towards a procedural way of knowing. They often assume that "certain phenomena have 
many potential meanings" depending on the way they view them. "In order to fully 
understand the phenomenon, she had to view it from a variety of angles" (Belenky, et al., 
1986, p. 98). 

Finally, while my interpretation of Patricia is that she identified with both 
separate and connected aspects of the procedural way of knowing, one of the qualities of 
connected knowers that I found reflected in Patricia's statements was that of care. As 
mentioned in Sofia's portrait, connected knowers care about the objects they seek to 
understand (Belenky, et al., 1986, p. 124). It was clear that Patricia cared about her 
students and it seemed important to her to learn everything she could to help them. This 
was evident when she spoke of feeling "sad" about how she handled students in the past 
and how she wished she would have known then what she knows now. That way she 
could have been able to better understand them and help them. The feeling of care was 
also evident when she talked about the training she provided to her colleagues and how 
she hoped it would help the students and the school. 



I feel like it's benefited the school, and at this point, in getting the process going, 
so hopefully we'll see something. And, maybe we can get a class going or. . .we 
need more training, I think is the key for teachers to implement this. . .1 hope that 
it helps the students. . .and I hope we can improve things at our school. 

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Summary of Patricia's Experiences 

Due to her active participation in the course and the application of what she 
learned to her teaching context, I am confident that Patricia changed not only what she 
knew and thought, but how she thought about ELLs and the education of ELLs. Her 
course participation and her involvement in the community of practice at her school 
appeared to result in a transformative learning experience for Patricia. She reported 
gaining both knowledge and confidence, and with tendencies towards procedural 
knowing, she was able to analyze and reflect on her experiences for the benefit of her 
students, her school, and herself. 

Steven 
Background 

My impression of Steven was that he was a confident, social, and charismatic, 
single man in his upper 20 's with diverse interests, goals, and aspirations. He was 
enrolled in the ALP program, but indicated that he had not chosen a specific content area 
of concentration. He earned his B.A. in social science and fluctuated in his feelings about 
wanting to teach. He felt he was "destined to be an educator;" yet he had concerns about 
the teaching profession and education in general. "I have questions about the future of 
teaching... the teaching career, the occupation. I have concerns about the education 
system." It was clear that the semester of the study was a time of "soul-searching" for 
Steven. 

I was not clear on Steven's family background as he did not talk much about it. 
What I learned of his upbringing was that it was not ideal for him. He moved around a lot 

179 



as a young child and has lived in Colorado since the age of 12. "I came from a pretty 
rough background. My mom had two kids when she was 19, single..., moving on 
everywhere." In his initial background questionnaire, Steven wrote, "As a child I moved 
around a lot, in fact, I cannot remember an address before the age of 12." 

Steven indicated that he was raised in a "very much English speaking 
environment." However, in his initial journal he wrote, "I have witnessed and been a part 
of multilingual education my entire life." On his background questionnaire, Steven 
expanded on that statement. He wrote, 

I am an international enthusiast who has travelled and studied the people, cultures, 
religions, languages of a given group of people. The social aspect of human 
connection is truly fascinating! Languages other than English have never been 
utilized around me regarding my family although I have Spanish, German, 
Russian, Ukrainian and English familial language backgrounds. 

Steven's native language is English, but he reported knowledge of Spanish and 
Thai with "language awareness in multiple other languages/dialects." He rated his 
proficiency in both Spanish and Thai at three out of five. His knowledge of Thai came 
from his experiences in Thailand as part of a study abroad program, which he did as an 
undergraduate. 

I lived in Thailand for a few months in which I'm going to be going back here 
pretty quick and once I went over there I was involved with students, I was just 
involved in so many different things. I got into playing music out there, started 
performing and it's just one of those things. . . 

One observation he made about the Thai culture and education was, 



What's interesting about Thai culture and education is that they're very, very 
traditional. They use the same methods they've been using for a long time. That is 
until a westerner comes over and they get in a class and they try and take over and 
take the reins. To teach English over there you just have to be from an English- 
speaking country. 

180 



Upon conclusion of the course, Steven had plans to return to Thailand and spend 
time in Burma as well. 

I'm in the process of setting all that stuff up. A friend of mine is going to be in 
Burma and we're hoping to meet over there and do a little. . .we want to team up 
and we have this vision to save the world with medicine and through education. 
So yeah I want to get out there and go travel a bit. 

He described a little more about what he planned to do during his time in Thailand. 

Well, I'll be training six days a week, twice a day. I'll have Sundays off. I'm 
going to Burma to meet my girlfriend; she's going on a medical mission to 
Burma, and I'll be going out there to meet with her for a couple of weeks. So, for 
three months, I'll basically be training six days a week. . .It's for, have you heard 
of Muay Thai fighting style? It's kickboxing. It's where the dudes stand up and 
they kick with their legs, you know and their elbows, stuff like that. Anyway, I'm 
going out there to study a style called Muay Tang Pa, which is a conglomeration 
of five different Southeast Asian studies. And its, the whole goal is mental 
mastery, the study of ancient martial arts, so built into the program, into what I'm 
going to be doing, is a lot of meditation, a lot of yoga, and a lot of civil work, you 
know, included. . .a lot of cooking for monks and stuff. 

Steven also indicated that he may visit schools while he is there. "I'll be able to work 
with some monks over there; I'll be able to go to some schools; I'll be able to go to 
Burma to work with the medical mission. . ." Steven sounded very excited about his trip 
to Asia. "Asia is my place of desire!" 

Teaching Experience 

Steven was in a teacher education program as an undergraduate. However, his 
study abroad experience caused him to change course. "Well, I spent a lot of time when I 
was doing my undergrad. . .1 started towards teaching. I was in a teaching education 
program with a history endorsement, and then I went on a study abroad program and my 
track kind of changed and was thinking more international." 



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Steven was not teaching during the semester of the study, but had taught 
previously. He taught a University Studies course for three years (2008-2010). In our 
final interview he reflected on his experiences there. 

When I was working at <a local university> teaching those classes I actually felt 
good, you know, because it was a mental exercise, working with young minds, 
and having great lesson plans, and teach things, you know things like that. I 
enjoyed that, and I need to get back to that. 

On his background questionnaire, Steven indicated that he was a former higher 
education administrator, but did not expand on that. He only mentioned that he "worked 
largely with international student populations." Overall, Steven rated his teaching 
experience at a three out of five, half-way between a novice and a veteran. 

Beliefs and Understandings about Linguistic Diversity 

Based on several of his written and oral statements along with the results of his 
LATS survey, my interpretation of Steven was that his thinking was in line with an 
"English-only" mentality. Steven's responses to statements on the LATS supported an 
English-only philosophy. For example, he strongly agreed that to be considered 
American one should speak English and that the government should require that all 
government business (including voting) be conducted in English. In his final journal 
entry he wrote, 

As English is the dominant, major language of business worldwide, our students 
MUST have the ability to compete on this simple level. Therefore, I will never be 
able to support curriculum or educational legislation that does not maintain 
English as the primary, most necessary language of instruction. 

In his final reflection paper, Steven expressed additional sentiments in line with what I 
consider to be an English-only philosophy. 



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When speaking of the idea of bilingualism, and more specifically how to 
implement working, effective plans, skepticism has arisen. It's not that the belief 
that language other than English are useless or inferior, but the mentality that 
English skills are vital for survival and success in the United States. . .Students 
now come from all over the world in our schools and this should be celebrated 
and fused into lessons. However, it is more vital to gain mastery of 
English. . .English abilities are so important in the United States, as we must be 
able to communicate as humans. 

On the LATS survey, Steven also said that he did not think it was important for 
people in the U.S. to learn a language in addition to English. While Steven appeared to 
favor an English-only philosophy, he often commented that a person's native language 
should be valued and appreciated. In our first interview, Steven said, 

I don't really have friends here in America. Most of my friends are from around 
the world. It's just everywhere all over the place, some of my best friends are 
from Nepal, Vietnam and so yeah, I'm very comfortable with other cultures and 
other ethnicities, backgrounds, languages, things like that because it's so vital in 
this day and age to be able to communicate between two different cultures. Even 
if you can't communicate in the common language; still, it's important to have 
appreciation for the other person. 

Steven also said, "It's a connector right there especially in education even if you 
can just say hello in someone's native language. They might think, 'hey this is a person I 
can come and talk to.'" 

Steven's responses to other statements on the LATS reflected tolerance of 
linguistic diversity. For example, he reported that he did not feel the rapid learning of 
English should take place if it means losing the ability to speak one's native language; 
nor did he feel that learning English should take precedence over learning subject matter. 
He indicated that having ELLs in class would not be detrimental to the learning of others 
and that it is important for teachers to receive training to be able to better meet the needs 
of linguistically diverse learners. 

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In his initial journal entry, Steven admitted that while he acknowledged the 
importance of teaching ESL, he had not considered what it entailed. "To be completely 
honest, the idea and recognition that ESL is truly important today in terms of national 
sustainability and global competition was evident, but / never took the time to think about 
who teaches ESL and how." He stated that he was taking the class "very, very seriously" 
and predicted that it would be "beneficial and rewarding." The data suggest, though, that 
he did not take the course seriously, nor did he find it beneficial or rewarding. 

Reported Changes as a Result of Course Participation 

At the beginning of the semester, Steven reported having at least "some 
knowledge" of half of the topics on the knowledge of ELL issues survey. He claimed 
having "no knowledge" of bilingual program models, but "extensive knowledge" of the 
issues surrounding the debate on bilingual education. He reported having "quite a bit of 
knowledge" of legal requirements for educating ELLs and "extensive knowledge" of how 
second languages are learning/acquired. The rest fell somewhere in the middle. At the 
end of the semester, his overall self-assessment of knowledge of ELL issues increased by 
five points, a modest gain compared to others in the course. 

As for the results of his LATS, his score increased by four points, suggesting that 
he became less tolerant of linguistic diversity over the course of the semester. The 
statements that resulted in change from the beginning of the semester to the end were in 
line with my interpretation of Steven's tendencies toward an "English-only" philosophy. 
For example, in the beginning of the semester Steven was uncertain as to whether or not 
parents of ELLs should be counseled to speak English with their children whenever 

184 



possible. At the end of the semester, however, he changed his response to indicate that he 
felt strongly that parents should be counseled to speak with their children in English. 

Another example of change was in Steven's shift of support about funding for 
ESL program. Initially, he stated that he would support the government spending 
additional money to fund better programs for ELLs. At the end, though, he stated he 
would not support funding for ELL programs. 

With respect to learning English, Steven indicated on the pre-semester survey that 
the rapid learning of English should not be a priority for ELLs if it meant losing ability in 
their native language. In the follow-up survey, he expressed that the learning of English 
should take priority, even if the ELLs would lose ability in their native language. 

Some of Steven's responses did not change, however. For example, he claimed to 
remain consistent in his belief that having ELLs would not be detrimental to the learning 
of others and continued to argue for the importance of teachers receiving training to teach 
ELLs. However, based on one of his comments in our final interview, it seemed as 
though he believed having ELLs in class may in fact be detrimental to the learning of 
others if teachers did not have proper training. 



For someone who wasn't interested in ELLs, they're gonna see it one way or 
another inside their classrooms. It's better to understand that, "Hey, I might need 
to fight, so I need to learn how to punch, so I need to at least know how to throw a 
jab and a left cross." We have to have an awareness of it, so. . .continue to show 
the relevancy on why working with ELL students is so vital for the success of 
everyone in the school, because if you have that one student in your class who 
doesn't understand what's going on because of language deficiencies, and if the 
teacher has to give that energy to that student. . .well, the other students are 
hurting, too. So, at least we need a little bit of strategy and be aware that this is 
gonna happen. 



185 



He compared the needs of ELLs and ESL educators to the concept of "sink or swim." He 
wrote in his final reflection paper, 

All teachers should be trained in the practice of working with this population of 
students. Leaving a student to 'sink or swim' is not the desired path of education. 
It is also vital not to subject the teacher to this 'sink or swim' method either by 
expecting them to develop techniques and strategies alone. 

For Sofia, Kathy and Patricia, one of the greatest changes that took place as a 
result of their participation in the course was an increased level of confidence to work 
with linguistically diverse learners. This was not the case with Steven. He reported 
entering the course extremely confident in his ability to effectively teach ELLs, even 
though he had no prior coursework or formal training. He left the course extremely 
confident as well, suggesting that his course participation did not affect his confidence to 
work with ELLs. 

As far as his reported interest in working with ELLs, that, too, remained high at 
five out of five. Some of his statements corroborated that finding while other statements 
suggested that Steven was uncertain about whether or not he would want to work with 
ELLs. For example, in our final interview, he reported having great interest in working 
with ELLs. 



Preferably, actually, I would rather work with bilingual students. I would; I would 
absolutely rather work with people who don't just speak English, just because 
living in a culture. . .it would help enrich my own perspective. . .With bilingual 
education, it doesn't seem feasible to make it work for everybody, so I would 
prefer to work in an ELL environment, where I could get these target students up 
to par. I would prefer that, and previous to these classes, taking these classes, I 
was like "I want to work with everybody," and I still do. I still do want to work 
with everybody, but I would prefer to work with international, bilingual students. 
I would prefer to work with them, because I feel that I would be able to work with 
them better, and they would be able to work with somebody like me better. . .So, I 
kind of went from teach everybody to maybe just teaching ELLs, teaching ELL 

186 



and minority populations. I would love to work with them in the United States in 
the public schools. I would totally want to work with that population. 

However, in his final journal entry, Steven expressed the opposite. "I do not feel that I 
will pursue a career working with ESL students and am seriously questioning whether or 
not I will continue to pursue the teaching profession." Due to the conflicting nature of his 
statements, it appeared as though Steven was still searching for a direction, and the 
course did not change that. 

Specific Reactions to Course Activities 

Steven rarely discussed the content of the course or his reactions to the specific 
activities in which he engaged. The data suggest that he did not do the readings and did 
not participate consistently in discussions. Perhaps in an attempt to minimize his doubts 
and downplay his lack of confidence, he avoided discussing the course material at length 
(Tannen, 1995). However, I was able to infer, based on the few comments he made, that 
the first two field assignments and aspects of the sheltered content instruction text 
(Echevarria & Graves, 2010) stuck with him the most. The online discussions made a 
strong impact on Steven, but not in a positive way. 

Steven mentioned the first field assignment, the panel discussion, more than any 
other activity, except for the online discussions. In his write-up of the assignment, Steven 
described the panel discussion as "informative and thought provoking." In our interviews 
he talked about feeling surprised and overwhelmed by what he learned. "Something that 
surprised me was watching that English as a second language panel directors' discussion. 
It was just surprising how many different languages are represented in <local school 



187 



districts>. Those numbers were astonishing." He explained how what he learned made 
him unsure about whether or not it is possible to reach all students, especially ELLs. 

Just learning some of the things in the ESL class in <one of the local school 
districts> they have like 3,000 ELL students... 54 languages represented. That 
seems to be just out of this world overwhelming. I don't understand how a district 
can tackle that kind of issue. It just doesn't make sense especially the way the 
Office of Civil Rights, Title VI act and all that stuff. It just doesn't really make 
sense. So I don't know if maybe I'm being ignorant about the whole class, the 
whole object of English as a second language or if there are really solutions to this 
issue. . .That just - that blows my mind. It seems absolutely impossible to give 
every one of those students an equal education according to all the regulations. It 
really seems like the cards are stacked so much against the school and district. I 
just never thought that the problems were that big, but they are, and they're 
everywhere. I didn't know that. I didn't really think that those numbers and that 
perspective. . .that really sticks with me is how many students are out there who fit 
in this bill. That is a huge problem. 

For the second field experience, the cultural activity, Steven attended a Russian 
orthodox church and a Greek orthodox church. He described it as a more "spiritual" 
experience than anything else. "I wasn't quite understanding what was being said and 
what was being done. So, it was kind of the unspoken language that connected me to the 
feeling of being in these churches. . .1 wasn't understanding what was going on, but I was 
feeling what was going on." He described that feeling in another term: unspoken 
vibrations. "What most sticks with me from the experiences of both locations are the 
'unspoken vibrations' as I like to call what I felt." 

Steven acknowledged in his write-up that "a 'language imbalance' was evident 
from the first moment." However, Steven suggested that this experience led him to 
realize that people are people. In our interview he said, "It comes down to this: 
people/humans, we're really not that different when it comes down to it. The difference is 



188 



the language - that's usually what it is. That's kind of the synopsis I got from field 
assignment two." He expanded on that thought in his write-up. 

If we (humans) can come to terms that what separates us (humans) from truly 
understanding each other is LANGUAGE, then we may have some hope for the 
future. We are not much different in terms of seeking the same goals in life: 
peace, stability, acceptance and security. 

Steven only talked about this experience when prompted, but never brought it up 
on his own. That was also true of the third field assignment, which was never discussed 
in any of the three interviews. From his write-up I learned that he attended an adult ESL 
class at an English language institute at a local university. He explained that what he took 
from that experience was the reinforcement of ideas he already had about what 
constituted good teaching. He wrote, "As I was observing the class one simple thought 
kept recurring: all teaching styles and deliveries have a basic need for teacher charisma 
and passion." He described being "bored" during the class and found himself being 
critical of the choice of music the instructor used to enhance the lesson. 

I did not like the idea of everyone simply staring at their papers trying to listen 
and grasp all the words at one time. I, as a musician, was not even familiar with 
the songs being played to use as practice and I felt this may have not been as 
effective as if the songs were familiar and likeable. 

Steven indicated that, because he did not observe a public education classroom, he 
felt this experience may not have been what the instructor would have hoped for. 
However, he found his observation "extremely helpful." There was no indication that he 
conducted an interview or used that experience to speculate on what it might be like for 
him as a future educator of ELLs. 



189 



As for the readings, the only reading Steven mentioned in our conversations was 
the sheltered content instruction textbook (Echevarria & Graves, 2010). Based on the 
activity impact questionnaires, it appeared as though he read that text, at least parts of it, 
and the other course text (Lightbown & Spada, 2006), but did not do the supplemental 
readings. His response to the sheltered content instruction text was favorable. "I really 
like that sheltered content instruction textbook. It's really concise with ideas. It gives you 
general ideas and then it kind of expounds on them a little further, but it doesn't do it in a 
sense that kind of bores you." He described a specific section that made the greatest 
impact on him. 

When it talks about affective issues dealing with students - the ten steps or the ten 
different criteria for dealing with students, making them feel comfortable, those 
are ten great ideas. Those are ten fabulous thoughts and practices for an instructor. 
If you could do that on a daily basis, and you could stay aware of those things, 
you're probably gonna be damn effective. 

As I mentioned, the only other course activity that we talked about was the online 
discussions. I will discuss the greater context of the online learning environment later in 
this section, but for now will address more specifically Steven's reactions to the weekly 
threaded discussions. As discussed in the results section, Steven found it difficult to keep 
up with the discussions since there was nobody forcing him to do them. He also said that 
he could speak his thoughts much more easily than type them. "The way I express myself 
in person is much different than in words. You know I can say in ten minutes the amount 
of things in the same time that I could type, and I just forget all the words when I'm 
typing kind of thing." 

Steven admitted that he did not often take the time to view others' work and 

therefore questioned whether or not people would view his. 

190 



We see these posts for the discussions, and do we really take the time to read 
them; you know each word in each person's submission? Do we really take the 
time to submit them? I don't even know if anybody has viewed my Power Points 
or not. . .1 didn't watch anybody else's PowerPoint, so I'm taking that from my 
perspective that if I didn't watch theirs, they probably didn't watch mine. It's just 
kind of one of those things that if no one, if. . .it's like if you don't want your butt 
kicked in sand, you know to stay with the wagon. Well, we're probably going to 
fall behind the wagon a little bit. 

On the mid-semester activity impact questionnaire, for the activities Steven rated, 
he put fives for almost everything, suggesting that each activity in which he engaged had 
a positive impact on him and was helpful in preparing him to work with ELLs. Based on 
our conversations, though, I was skeptical about those ratings. A close examination of the 
questionnaire was revealing. He put a four for the journals under the category 
"interesting/engaging" and he put threes for the online discussions under the categories 
"interesting/engaging" and "helpful in preparing me to work with ELLs." The 
supplemental articles were not rated, suggesting to me that he did not read them. The rest 
of the categories he rated as fives. 

For the end-of- semester activity impact questionnaire there was slightly more 
variety in his responses. He did not rate the supplemental internet links, indicating that he 
did not view them. He put threes across each category for the two textbooks and the 
exam, and he put zeros across the board for the online discussions. The majority of the 
remaining activities were rated at fives with a few exceptions. He rated the journals at a 
three out of five under the category "helpful in preparing me to work with ELLs." Under 
that same category, he assigned a one for field assignment three. He rated most of the 
categories for instructor participation/feedback/input at fives with the exception of that 
same category (helpful in preparing me to work with ELLs), which he rated at a three. 



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In conclusion, based on the lack of variety across activity impact ratings, I relied 
more heavily on interview data and reflections to provide a better interpretation of which 
activities appeared to have the greatest impact on Steven. My conclusion was that the 
first field assignment (panel discussion) appeared to make the greatest impact based on 
the fact that he brought it up on several occasions without prompting. In addition, the 
ideas presented on that video stuck with him; likely because he seemed to find the 
information new, shocking, and useful. 

Steven reported that the second field experience, in which he attended the two 
orthodox churches, resulted in a more emotional and spiritual impact. The experiences 
led him to a new realization, or confirmation of an existing one, that people are very 
much the same. The data suggest that the third field assignment, the observation, did not 
appear to make much of an impact on Steven. 

Other than the one chapter Steven mentioned about the readings, I was not 
convinced that the readings or any of the other course activities made a lasting impression 
on Steven or challenged his beliefs about ELLs or the education of ELLs. Because I was 
unsure, I asked Steven in our final interview what, if anything, caused him to think 
differently. His response was "the open communication with you and <Eva>." At one 
point during the semester Eva, the instructor, reached out to him by phone, which 
appeared to make an impression on Steven. 



That was absolutely surprising. That's been absolutely surprising to me how 
personal. . ., it seems like <Eva> wanted to make a relationship. She wants to help, 
she wants to be involved with students, she wants to know what's going on. She's 
active, and it's obvious, and what that is, it's contagious. For someone like me, 
it's very much appreciated that she would actually take the time out of the day to 
say, "Hey dude, you're screwing up big time man. What's going on?" To me, 

192 



that's education. Right, that is the underlying theme. . .that you need to at least try, 
as an educator, to know what's going on inside the student's mind. She's done 
that well, and you doing that research, and you allowing me to talk about my 
craziness. What that does, it exemplifies what teaching means to me. So, it's been 
very surprising to me, almost in a beating around the bush way, the entire 
perspective of what teaching is, has been delivered. You need to be there and 
communicate with your students. I was very surprised that it happened this way, 
but it happened. 

In summary, while it was not engagement in an assigned activity that may have made a 
difference, I can infer that his interaction with the instructor and with me led to a shift in 
his thinking about what is important in education. This also highlights the importance of 
communication between instructor and learners and the need to find ways to create those 
connections in an online course. 

The Quest for Answers in a Phase of Self- Exploration 

Similar to other people in their twenties, Steven asked himself three driving 
questions: Who am I? How do I know? What kind of relationships do I want with others? 
(Baxter-Magolda, 2001). My interpretation of Steven's experiences during the semester 
of the study was that his primary focus was on finding answers to those questions. The 
course provided an opportunity for him to accomplish that. 

I first learned of Steven's quest of self-discovery by reading his background 
questionnaire. Under the heading "other daily responsibilities" he wrote, "Personal 
journey to discover balance, holistically building from the three pillars of mind, body and 
soul." He also wrote, "I am still in TRUE 'self-discovery/awareness' mode." When 
asked on the questionnaire why he was taking this course, his response was, "I am trying 
to identify if teaching is the correct career choice right now. . .The environment seems 
stacked against the teachers. I may be wrong. This is why I am taking this." 

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I was not surprised, then, in our interviews that much of our conversations 
revolved around Steven and his quest for answers. I have pulled the statements from the 
interview data and have presented them in table 5.3. 



Table 5.3 Steven's Statements of Self-Exploration 



Activity 



Statements representative of self-exploration 



First interview 



That's why I'm taking these classes is kind of in the boat of 99% sure I want to be a 
teacher, but I have concerns and I have questions about the future of teaching. . .the 
teaching career, the occupation. I don't know if I'll get in the classroom and love it, so I 
just have questions about if this is something I really, really, really want to do. And it's 
pretty good that I'm asking these questions now. 

Do I just want to get in the classroom? Do I want to start working right away? Do I want 
to keep going to school and doing it that way kind of taking a little time off before I get 
in the classroom? There's just a thousand questions going on in my head about, am I 
doing the right things right now making the right decisions? My thing is I kind of want to 
be a cop. I have a strong desire to be a police officer and I know I don't want to do that 
for a career, but I do want to do that for a while so I'm kind of thinking, well this 
teaching thing, get a master's, it could be a terrific plan T, plan teaching. I'm kind of 
jumbled a little bit. 

Oh yeah, there's no question I want to be an attorney. I've tried to get into law school for 
the past year. It just didn't quite work out and I still know the reasons why I didn't get in. 

So I'm kind of. . . what do I want to do? Do I really just want to be a teacher or do I want 
to big time go for everything I've ever dreamt about? I'm kind of just in a jumbled state 
of what do I want to do 100% exactly. 

I'm trying to see if I really want to do this. You have kids. It's very important to think 
about financials. I don't want to struggle at all. I don't' want to struggle and if that's what 
being a teacher means is going to happen I'm not really interested in that. 

I'm just in that boat, you know. This is an exploration phase. I'm willing to spend a 
couple thousand dollars on these two classes just to see do I really want to keep going? 
Do I just want to try to get my license another way, shape or form I don't know. 

Where do I really want to spend my energies and years trying to accomplish or do? 

I have to think big time. . .future career, family, financials. . . 

I'm just asking myself these questions. It's more of a soul searching. Talking to 
you. . .you're gonna help a whole lot more than I'm gonna help you. 

I just don't know if I'm gonna be a teacher for 25 years. I am going to teach ESL 
somewhere at some point. 



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Table 5.3 Cont'd 



Activity 


Statements representative of self-exploration 


Second interview 


Well, I'll just be honest. The honest thing is, I'm not sure how much I even want to 
follow this career path. 

I absolutely, positively want to teach; I want to get into the teaching field. It's just I 
don't know if it's the right time right now, and I don't know if this online setting is 
the proper setting for me to learn. 

I'm just asking myself a thousand questions: Do I really want to follow this 100%? 
Do I want to do law school first? I'm really just trying to ask myself these serious 
questions, and that 's not an excuse of why I haven 't been performing well in class, 
but it kind of is a reason. 

I do want to continue this program. Do I want to continue online? Do I want to go 
on campus? 


Third journal entry 


I do not feel that I will pursue a career working with ESL students and am seriously 
questioning whether or not I will continue to pursue the teaching profession. This 
class has potentially opened a door in which I felt was compelling but is of vital 
importance to the future students of the U.S., that is educational law. 


Final self -reflection 
paper 


The exploration of educational legislation has sparked an internal interest. 

It cannot be stated whether or not I will work directly with English language 
learners in the public school setting. 


Third interview 


I don't know how much I want to go towards a master's degree in education, so I 
really changed in my goals there. 

Do I want to be a teacher? Yes. Do I want to go in this direction? Maybe not. 
There's just so many questions. 

I'm trying to figure myself out. 

I'm going to have some big goals, and when I do, I'm going to go for them 100%. 
Am I ready for that now? Absolutely not! I've just been asking myself these 
questions. I thought I was kind of ready, and I'm not even close, not even close! 
But at least I know that. 

I'm still going to pursue being a teacher; I just don't know if a Master's is what I 
need, or what I want. I don't know if I want to go to school, at this time. You know, 
I want to go to law school, so I need to pursue that a little more. I do want to teach, 
absolutely. 

I'm trying to ask myself some very big questions. 



Based on the repetitive theme of those statements, it was clear that Steven 
fluctuated between wanting to be a teacher and being unsure whether or not that was 



195 



something he wanted to pursue. He also expressed fluctuating interest in earning a 
Master's degree. Other possible directions he explored were going to law school, 
becoming a police officer, and pursuing educational legislation. On the background 
questionnaire he also described himself as a "future legislative reformer" and expressed 
interest in becoming a state senator one day. 

Table 5.3 highlighted Steven's quest for discovering what he wanted to do in life. 
The data reveal Steven's search for identity, or sense of self, which would connect with 
the driving question of 'Who am I?' In stark contrast to Patricia, for whom I only found 
three personal statements, for Steven I found more than 60. This was not surprising given 
the fact that he openly admitted he was focused on himself and finding answers to some 
of his big questions. The majority of our conversations centered on that goal. The 
statements I identified as representative of Steven's sense of self are presented in table 
5.4. 



Table 5.4 



Steven's Statements about Himself 



Activity/ 
Interview 



I-statements 



Background 
Questionnaire 



I am an international enthusiast. 

I am a martial artist. 

I am a musician, classically trained on the trombone. 

I have a natural 3 l A octave baritone voice mixed with the ability to "fake" the guitar. 

I can entertain people! 

I am a realist. 

I am an idealist. 



First 

interview (on 
phone) 



I definitely am one of those people that is very helpful and very useful in terms of having feedback. 

I was never the best student in the first place. 

I'm an international traveler. 

I want to be one that helps solve these problems. 

I'm trilingual. 

I'm one of those people that I want to be around people and have feedback and listen to what's being 

said, state my own opinions, things like that. 

I'm kind of jumbled a little bit. 

I'm one of those people I just love to do so many things and I'm good at almost everything I do. 



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Table 5.4 Cont'd 



Activity/ 
Interview 



I-statements 



First 

interview 
(on phone) 
cont'd 



I don't want to struggle at all and if that's what being a teacher means is going to happen I'm not really 

interested in that. 

I'm good with money one way or the other. 

I want to do so many things and it's not really going to be possible to do them all. 

I can do and handle a lot of things. 

I'm very comfortable with other cultures and other ethnicities, backgrounds, languages, things like that. 

I'm one of those dudes that I'll either focus 1000% and I'll focus like crazy or I won't. It's totally the yin 

and the yang process for me. 



Second 
interview 
(on phone) 



I love the mission of educating young minds; I know I'm going to be good at it. 

I'm one of those dudes, one of those people that I can get animated, but I use totally other ways... The 

way I express myself in person is much different than in words. 

I'm a total "I need to be in class" type of person. 

I'm a fiscal conservative. I watch every penny. 

It has to do with me as a visual, kinesthetic kind of person. You know I need to be active. I need to be 

loud. I need to be touching here and listening. I need to be "in it," you know what I mean? 

I like people and I'm a social person. 

I'm the kind of guy I take notes; I take notes for everything. 

I like to see people's reactions; I like to see body language, things like that. 

I'm you know "old school" - social - it's me face-to-face. 

I hold nothing against anybody really; I'm one of those people. 

I can't say for one second that I know anything, because I know nothing - that's what I know. 

I need to learn. 

I'm just an educator naturally. 

As a teacher, I believe one of the most necessary traits is charisma. You've got to be charismatic; you 

gotta keep the. . .you gotta make it a little bit fun and interesting; you're going to have to keep them 

engaged, and that's something that I have inherently. 

Some of these people think I'm the biggest asshole in the world, and I'm not - totally the opposite of 

that. 

I'm an "in class" kind of guy. 

I want to be an educator; that's what I feel I'm in this existence to do is to help. . . 



Third 
interview 
(on phone) 



I'm a musician and I've only composed one song in like the last four months, and that's not good 

enough. 

I'm one of those people that needs to have feedback, that needs to be around people, hearing what people 

say, you know. 

I'm a kinesthetic kind of person; I like to have hands-on. 

I could have been the biggest faker, and I would have gotten an A+, but I wasn't trying to fake it; I'm 

trying to figure myself out. 

I'm a relatively young person, and I'm trying to solve these answers; I'm trying to solve these 

deficiencies and shortcomings that I have, and this is a whole part of the education process. 

I'm a musician; that's how I get paid money. 

I'm not a good student. 

I'm incredibly talented, I'm intelligent, I'm not so "book smart." 

I can relate to kids. 

I'm a natural educator. 

I would prefer to work with international, bilingual students because I feel that I would be able to work 

with them better, and they would be able to work with somebody like me better. 

I'm an entertainer. 

I'm not that good of a musician, I mean, I'm a good singer, and good at the guitar, but when I put it all 

together, I'll blow your mind. 

I like to see faces. 

I'm good at typing, it's just the ideas don't flow as good, you know? 

I'm a creative guy. 

I have one of those memories that doesn't forget anything. 



197 



Let us turn now to the third driving question of the twenties: What kind of 
relationships do I want to have with others? In our final interview, Steven confessed that 
much of his thinking shifted over the course of the semester because he "met someone." 
He explained how they met. 

She moved in next door to where my dad lives, and I stay at my dad's sometimes 
to watch his house on the weekends while he works, take care of his dog and stuff 
like that, and anyway, I ended up meeting this girl, and I just. . . .it seems like 
everything that she wants to do coincides with what I want to do. 

"Meeting a girl changes everything," he told me. "My entire goal of finding and meeting 
someone seems to be fitting with her." Steven made it sound as though his dreams were 
finally coming true. 

Having someone around to love and to share with has always been a dream. 
Playing music, being a bit successful, and having a future of happiness has always 
been a dream. Being able to train martial arts wise has always been a dream, and 
it seems like it's all come together here. 

Steven and Subjective Knowledge 

Belenky and colleagues (1986) proposed that the five epistemological 
perspectives they presented as women's ways of knowing could cut across gender lines. I 
found this to be the case with Steven who exhibited characteristics of a subjective 
knower. The term Perry (1981) used for subjectivism was multiplicity. In most cases the 
terms are interchangeable and the emphasis for people operating under this meaning- 
making system is on personal experience (Belenky, et al., 1986). 

There were some distinctions made between young men and young women who 
exhibited characteristics of this epistemological perspective. For the male multiplists, 
"the business of the classroom is to express loudly what you believe and feel" (Belenky, 



198 



et al., 1986, p. 64). The male students tend to take on multiplicity with vigor, whereas the 
female students usually approach it much more cautiously. In addition, men tend to be 
more outspoken and at times confrontational in an attempt to persuade others into their 
point of view. Women, on the other hand, tend to be less outspoken, non-confrontational, 
and less concerned with persuading others to believe what they believe. I found Steven to 
be outspoken and a person who expressed himself loudly so that he could be heard. In 
fact, he even used the term "loud" to describe a need of his. He said, "It has to do with 
me as a visual, kinesthetic kind of person. You know, I need to be active. I need to be 
loud." 

Subjective knowing is partly defined as the quest for self, which fit well with my 
impression of Steven. The predominant mode of learning for this way of knowing is 
inward listening and watching. Steven admitted that he was in self -discovery mode and 
uncertain about what life had in store for him. Subjective knowers seem to have the will 
to launch themselves into the world. They tend to be wanderers and world travelers. They 
are often assertive and self-absorbed, throw themselves into life, take risks, and try out 
new selves as their contexts change (change in schooling, travel to foreign countries, 
work a variety of jobs, etc.) (Belenky, et al., 1986). The fact that Steven took off to 
Thailand upon conclusion of the study was in line with something a subjective knower 
might do. Subjective knowers are often like youths in fairy tales (usually male) who set 
out from the family homestead to make their way in the world, discovering themselves in 
the process. Minimal forethought and reason go into their decision to "walk 
away"(Belenky, et al., 1986, p. 77). 



199 



Part of the reason for "walking away" is that subjective knowers tend to harbor 
unspoken desires to be free from the prescriptions of others. They dream of escape and 
release and have an impulse to live a carefree and unrestrained life, which can lead to a 
silent alienation from the educational process, knowing somehow that their conformity is 
a lie and does not reveal the inner truth or potential that they have come to value 
(Belenky, et al., 1986, pp. 66-67). I got a sense of this from Steven throughout our 
interviews. He predicted from the beginning that he would not do well in the course. He 
did not respond well to the online learning environment because it appeared to conflict 
with his need to "express loudly" what he believed and felt. He often spoke of being an 
"in-class kind of guy" because he wanted to share his opinion with others. He also 
expressed a desire to experience the course through the senses. He said, "I need to be 
touching here and listening. I need to be 'in it'... I like to have hands-on." This is common 
among subjective knowers who tend to trust less in written words and text books in favor 
of learning through direct sensory experience or personal involvement with objects of 
study (Belenky, et al, 1986, p. 74). 

Most subjective knowers are forward-looking, positive, and open to new 
experiences, which I found to be the case with Steven. Belenky and her research team 
(Belenky, et al., 1986, p. 83) found that the subjective knowers in their study "seemed 
propelled by an inner fire, communicating to us a feeling of exhilaration and optimism as 
they plunged ahead toward some dim future." This made me think of Steven's aspiration 
to "save the world with medicine and through education" without having given much 
thought to what that would entail. When looking towards the future, he aspired to work a 
variety of jobs (teacher, lawyer, police officer, legislative reformer) that appeared to lead 

200 



him down an uncertain path. He spoke with confidence; yet remained unclear about what 
he wanted to do in life. In his quest for life experience he said, "I want to do so many 
things and it's not really going to be possible to do them all." 

Steven described for me an experience about his participation in an 'Occupy' 
protest close to where he lived. The way he described the experience and appeared to 
make sense of it was in line with subjectivist knowers who often, when faced with 
controversy, become strictly pragmatic - "what works best for me" and refer back to the 
centrality of their personal experience, whether they are talking about right choices for 
themselves or for others (Belenky, et al., 1986, p. 70). This is the story he told me during 
a part of our interview that had to do with "standing up for one's beliefs." 



I'll tell you what; it doesn't really have to do with the ESL class, but maybe it 
does somewhat wise, but I went down to an 'Occupy' protest. I was getting 
verbally assaulted, and people were bumping me. These 'occupy' people were 
uncontrollable. It was ridiculous, and all I did was, I had one simple sign that said 
two words, "Self-reliance." People were just trying to destroy me, verbally 
assaulting me; calling me names. A couple of old ladies came up to me and got 
into my face. It was just unbelievable. It was unbelievable! I had no idea what 
was going on, and it was kind of that experience.... I've got solid bank accounts. 
I've got bank accounts, and it's not because of my mommy or daddy. It's because 
of me out there. It wasn't because of no government handout. It wasn't because I 
got scholarships from school. It was because I've earned it, and I just can't 
understand why you've got to say, "more, more, more, more." And anyways, it's 
just I was being very polite to people, and then as soon as the word got out that I 
wasn't "with" them, it was an entire different ball game. It was just an entire 
different existence. I wasn't afraid, you know, by any means, I wasn't afraid. I 
was going to stand my ground, but it was just incredible how people claimed to be 
so one way, you know peaceful, and trying to be progressive toward changing 
government and helping everybody out, and then somebody comes along who 
potentially doesn't agree with their viewpoints, and then their entire message of 
civility just; it just ceases to exist. It was incredible, yeah. I didn't think it was 
going to be like that. If I did, I would have taken somebody with me to record it. 
This happened, I think mid-November, and I don't know it just made me think a 
lot. I've worked since I was eighteen; I've saved my money. I paid for college; I 
didn't really take any loans out. I'm a musician; that's how I get paid money. 
Why should I have to give more to you guys, or anybody else that doesn't want to 

201 



work? It wasn't what I was saying. It's just what's so bad about me having a 
sign that says 'self-reliance?' What's so bad about that idea? And having all of 
that negative feedback told me, "<Steven>, just rely on yourself real quick. Take 
a step back. Do what you do best. Do it better than anybody," and that's that. 

Steven was uncertain about what path he wanted to pursue in life and at the same 
time appeared extremely confident in himself as a person. One aspect of the shift towards 
subjectivism, or multiplicity, is a shift in orientation to authority from external to internal 
(Belenky, et al., 1986; Perry, 1981). This evolution is common among many people in 
their twenties (Baxter-Magolda, 2001). They become their own authorities as an adaptive 
move to self-protect, self-assert, and self-define (Belenky, et al., 1986, p. 54). I found 
evidence of this reflected in Steven's story above and in Steven's statements about 
himself in general (see table 5.4). 

Perry (1981, p. 85) argued that at this position "an opinion is related to nothing 
whatsoever - evidence, reason, expert judgment, context, principle, or purpose - except 
to the person who holds it." The ethic of multiplists, or subjective knowers, seems to be 
that they should hear people out, but are under no obligation to accept or even consider 
others' ideas seriously (Belenky, et al., 1986, p. 66). This appeared to be the case with 
Steven. He listened intently, but I did not find evidence that he seriously considered the 
ideas presented in the course, by the instructor, or by me. 

Subjective Knowing and Online Learning 

It was evident that by the end of the semester Steven was strongly opposed to the 
online learning environment. In the beginning of the semester, he mentioned being unsure 
if the online format would work for him and questioned whether or not he could "hack 
it." By the end, he revealed a strong opposition to anything and everything related to the 

202 



online environment. It appeared as though Steven was putting the responsibility and the 
blame for his lack of participation on the fact that the course was online. Perhaps this can 
be further explained by the idea that the online learning environment may have conflicted 
with his subjective way of knowing. As an example, Steven strongly believed in the 
importance of human connection and personal experience. "The social aspect of human 
experience is truly fascinating!" He expanded by saying, 

Online discussion doesn't seem as real as connecting, communicable wise, via 
person, as in a room. You don't get as much. You can't explore. Try to get all that 
stuff together, you know, so that when I'm 50, 1 actually have some good advice 
for those young people that want to listen to me. 

It's the extra intangibles; it's the extra qualities that people can offer inside a 
class, inside of social situations. It's exactly that stuff that I think is lost in online 
classes. As a teacher, I believe one of the most necessary traits is 
charisma. . . .Some of these people think I'm the biggest asshole in the world; and 
I'm not - totally the opposite of that, but that's just kind of what's lost. 

While reflecting on his own experiences with past teachers he became more aware 
of the importance of a teacher's ability to connect with students. 

There's always teachers who have been huge, and it's because they've been able 
to connect. And if you can find one thing to connect with, with a student, whether 
it be home life, school, music, sports, whatever - reading a good book, that's 
important. I think that I'm more aware of that. 

Steven appeared to believe that connections could come in many forms. Verbal 
communication was one. It was not surprising, then, that the most important experience 
in the ESL for Educators course for Steven was his communication with the instructor 
and with me. "Having you guys to communicate with, is so vital, just to have that path, 
people to talk to. . .1 believe in communication. It's very powerful." Music was another. 
"That's the whole point of being human. Their stuff moves me, and I want to move 
people." 

203 



Steven often referred to education as a "give and take" process. He spoke of 
"karma" and "yin and yang." He explained in our first interview, "You can never go with 
just one side good or one side bad; it has to be a reflection of both the yin and the yang." 
That statement provides further evidence of a subjective way of knowing. He provided an 
example of this line of thinking when he described the superficiality of online discussions 
and the experiences of a friend of his, who Steven concluded was not learning; nor was 
he contributing to anyone else's learning. 

You can't learn when everybody says, "That's wonderful," "Thank you," "Good 
job," pat on the back. It's not the way it goes. I believe that. Just in my 
perspective, there's just a lot of miscommunication in dialogue and discussions, 
because it's just "Hey, let me get the points real quick, let me put something," and 
that's it. I was talking to my friend. He's an advisor at <a local university.> He is 
getting his Master's in Higher Ed. He's not the brightest guy in the world. He's a 
friend and all, but not the brightest guy. He's getting straight A's in all of his 
classes because he does his discussion questions and all, but when he talks to me 
about it, it's very superficial. He's not getting anything from it. He's not 
benefitting; he's not making anybody think. It's like, "Dude, are you just going 
through the motions? What are you learning here?" And I need to learn. I'll tell 
you what. 

Steven spoke not only of online classes, but the role of technology in general, in 
what he perceived to be a negative impact on social experience altogether. 

I think technology, in general, is totally dwindling social experience. You know 
Twitter, Facebook, texting, all this stuff. There's no 'butterflies in the stomach' by 
meeting face-to-face with somebody anymore. I don't like that personally, 
because I like people and I'm a social person, and just. ..I don't know, that's just 
kind of the way I feel. 

In addition, Steven spoke of his belief in the power of debate and the ability to 
express one's emotions, for which the online environment may not be conducive. He 
related his views on that to his views on education in general. 



204 



If someone can debate what they are thinking, and they can express their 
emotions, then that is just the most incredible stuff in the world. . .We're in 
education. We are supposed to be pushing our thoughts. We're supposed to be in 
an expanding world. We're supposed to be debating important ideas. We're not in 
higher education on accident. We're here to try to be leaders and to mold the 
future. That's what this is about. I can't say for one second that I know anything, 
because I know nothing - that's what I know." 

Steven's subjective way of knowing combined with the importance he placed on 
connection, communication and human experience appeared to conflict with the online 
course. Perhaps part of the issue was that Steven viewed the online setting as a barrier to 
his quest for self-discovery. "I don't know how beneficial the online setting is for me. It's 
not helping exactly answer these questions." Because of his process of intrapersonal 
development, he was more concerned about his own development rather than the benefit 
of others in this particular course experience. 

Transitions, Change in Perspective, and Projecting Forward 

"I'm totally transitioning," Steven told me. "The last few months, it's been 
changing my perspective, because like I need to take things so much easier, and I need to 
focus on what's important and not try to do a thousand things at once, which I have 
always tried to do." He seemed welcoming of this change in perspective. "Perspectives 
change," he said. "That's good, that's very natural, that's healthy when our perspectives 
change when we grow and learn and experience." 

Through this process of self-exploration, Steven learned a lot about himself and 
what was important to him. 



Well, it's important to me to figure out what's important to me in my life, and to 
try to figure out all of these things, I mean life isn't easy. For me, it's like life has 
been very difficult, but happiness is there for everybody, and it involves helping 
others, it involves having a huge impact on the world, and that's where I want to 

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be. That's where I'm going, and I just lost that for a while, and I need to maintain 
that, and I need to bring it back, and I need to cultivate it. I need to stick some 
enriching water on my soul and let it grow. 

Steven acknowledged that he needed to slow down, which is one of the reasons he 
looked forward to going back to Thailand, and to reconnect with the Southeast Asian 
philosophies, which appeared to influence his perspective on the world. 

It's day-by-day, breath-by-breath, really that's the only way you can go - you 
have to do what's right at the moment, for the next moment, for the next moment, 
and in anticipation of the next moment. That's total Buddhism, which is why I'm 
going back to Southeast Asia, to connect with this, and just breathe. I need to 
breathe... a lot. 

Steven appeared to conceive of life as a process. He discussed the role of his new 
relationship and the next steps for him in that process. 

I have to get a lot better in myself, in so many different ways, spiritually, 
mentally, physically, and I believe in the next few months, I will be able to take, 
I've been able to take some incredible steps lately anyway, but just meeting this 
girl has helped me understand and evaluate myself like crazy. 

Steven seemed to take comfort in knowing that everything was working out as he 
felt it was supposed to and indicated that the ESL for Educators course was part of that. 
"Everything is working out exactly how it's supposed to be. I believe it's supposed to be 
happening. These classes were absolutely, 100% unequivocally, part of that. Even if it 
seems like they weren't, they were." 

Before I had a chance to thank Steven for his time and participation in this study, 
he thanked me for my role in his quest for self-discovery. He said to me as we were 
wrapping up the interview, 



Change is the only thing that is constant. So, I want to thank you for being a part 
of my life in the last little, in the last few months. We don't know each other, I 
mean, really. I think you've asked some really good questions, and you've been 

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an ear to listen, and that means a lot. Personal exploration, just having someone to 
ask questions about what you think, what's going on, and that's huge. 

Summary of Steven's Experiences 

While the content of the course may not have impacted Steven greatly, his 
participation in the course did appear to impact his thinking in a personal way. This 
semester of soul-searching seemed to help him come to a few conclusions, but did not 
appear to help him answer all of his burning questions about what he wants to do and 
what is important to him in life. 

I definitely, I've seen myself change during the course of the last few months, 
while participating in this class in a variety of ways, almost every way I could 
think about. You know it's not really the class that has helped me change or 
helped me realize what I didn't know. I think it was just a reaffirmation of you 
know, my goals in life and what I want to do with myself, and you know I see 
myself get more motivated, and focused on a couple of things, which I feel I need 
to give my energy, and I think that this class has definitely helped me see that. 

I would conclude that while this course led to a modest amount of informational 
learning for Steven; that was not what this semester was about for him. It was evident 
that he underwent a process of self-exploration and development, some of which was 
impacted by his course experiences. In our last interview he left me with this final 
thought, "So, I tell you what, this ESL class has done a lot more than you guys will 
probably ever know." 

Erik 
Background 

Erik is a married man without children in his upper 30 's who, in my experience of 
him, was very intelligent and had a quirky sense of humor. He worked in instructional 
technology on voice recognition software during the time of the study and was enrolled in 

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the ALP program for secondary history. It is important to note that Erik started the 
program and the course late and therefore, I only conducted two interviews with him 
instead of three. "I started like a week and a half late, two weeks late, because I was 
trying to get all this paperwork done, and scrambling. So, I wasn't expecting to be in the 
program." 

Erik grew up as an "Air Force brat," which means he moved around a lot as a 
child. Among other places, he spent four years in Germany with his family (from age two 
to six). "It's weird. . .I'm an American, but my first memories are of a foreign country." 
Some of his memories included learning how to swim in Germany, seeing his first 
snowfall, and seeing mountains for the first time. He shared a story with me about the day 
he walked away from his German school while his kindergarten class was out for recess. 

I went to a German kindergarten for about two weeks. My mom was like, "you're 
going to go to German school, and you're going to learn German." And I didn't 
know any German. So, finally, we'd go out every day for recess, and I just left. I 
didn't go back, and there was "oh no, we lost the American kid." The police were 
looking for me; the MPs were looking for me. It was really just straight how you 
go to the base. You go down the road to this German school, so I just walked back 
to the gates. They were like, "what's your name?" And they grabbed me, and I 
thought I was in trouble, and then my mom came and got me. "Everyone's been 
looking for you," and I was just walking down the road. 

Erik's grandfather was German, and therefore, Erik said that he was encouraged 
to study German in high school. He told me he could understand simple conversations, 
"enough to get around, order food, make hotel reservations," but that was about the 
extent of his ability to speak German. 



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Erik described living in many places as a child and one of those places was the 
South, which he described as "different" and as having its own culture. He shared a story 
about an experience he had in first grade in Virginia. 

We first moved to Virginia, too. I was in first grade. These kids asked me, "are 
you a Yankee?" And I was just like, "what the hell are you talking about?" I had 
an idea to go home and ask my mom. But I could tell these kids what state I was 
from, and they knew, "Oh, okay, you're okay, because you're from Missouri." 
My brother is from Illinois, the land of Lincoln, so he was in trouble. I mean it's 
weird, the South is different. When I was in high school I did this thing called 
citizen B, and I don't know if you're familiar with that. I don't even know if they 
still do it. It's like this spelling bee for geography, U.S. constitution, history. So I 
won second in the state of Colorado. And so first and second place winners went 
to Washington, D.C. for the national competition, so we spent a week in 
Washington D.C, and there were two or three kids from every state. So we went 
to the Lincoln Memorial, and this kid from Mississippi walked up to Lincoln and 
spit on him. So you know, I don't know that was even 1990 - I don't know how 
much things have changed, but it's still there. I mean we like sort of make fun of 
people in the South or whatever, there's a certain amount of prejudice that goes 
towards Southern White. I think they're aware of that; sort of a chip on the 
shoulder down there. It's an entirely different culture you know. 

Erik and his family lived and traveled extensively throughout the U.S. and abroad 
when he was a child. Unfortunately, though, when Erik was 16, his father passed away. 
Shortly thereafter he decided to join the Army. 

So I didn't want to go to college right away. I just wanted to go, just leave, and 
do something. I knew I was going to go to college at some point down the road, 
but I just didn't want to do it then. So, I joined the Army. I figured you know 
they'll feed me at least. 

After the Army, Erik went to college where he earned his BA. in Asian Studies 
with a minor in Japanese. He studied abroad in Japan for one year and described that as a 
"sink or swim experience" because "Japan doesn't have a large number of non-native 
speakers, so they don't really slow down their rate of speaking for foreigners." At his 
university he was offered a scholarship to return to Japan upon graduating. 



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So they offered all these scholarships, so if you want to come here, we'll pay your 
airfare here and there, and we'll give you $1,200 dollars a month for a stipend. So 
it was my junior year, and my professor was like, "who wants to go to Japan?" So 
I wound up, I was sort of like a five-year student because I spent a year in Japan, 
but it seemed like a good opportunity. 

Erik took the opportunity and returned to Japan to teach English for three years. I will 
describe more about his teaching experience in the next section. 

After his three years in Japan, Erik moved to China and lived there for two years. 
When I asked Erik why he decided to move to China, he explained that unfortunately, 
after his time in the military he started having issues with his heart, and due to his 
particular condition, the government determined that he was disabled. 

I'm probably the healthiest disabled person you will ever meet. So, I was in 
Japan when I got this letter saying, "Hey you're disabled, we're going to give you 
x amount of dollars every month for the rest of your life." I was like "well that's 
awesome," so then I was 32, no 31 and I was ending my 3 years in Japan. What 
am I going to do now? So I just took off and went to China for two years - just 
wandered around. And then I met my wife, and we got married, so then I had to 
come back and become a productive member of society. It's a little different ... 
Well you know, I didn't have a dad, I didn't have a mortgage, so it was like well I 
have a guaranteed income, and you only get to do that once. 

It was in China that he met his wife, who was Japanese. He explained that they 
speak a mix of Japanese and English at home, what he called "Japenglish." Because he 
lived in China for two years, he felt his Chinese was "good enough to travel around the 
country, read and order from menus, and have basic conversations." Erik rated his 
Chinese as slightly better than his German. 

In addition to his time in Germany, Japan and China, Erik also travelled around 
Europe for a few months in college and visited England, Wales, Ireland, France, Spain, 
and Holland. While in Japan, he travelled to Thailand, Cambodia, India, Turkey, Egypt, 



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Jordan, and South Korea. At one point Erik said that he "spent a quarter of his life outside 
of the United States." 

Teaching Experience 

While Erik was studying abroad in Japan, he was given his first English tutoring 
job. He described his experience. 

While I was studying at a Japanese university just north of Tokyo, I had a part 
time job teaching English to two eight- year-old boys, the children of visiting 
professors from Kenya and Tanzania. The families spoke English at home but one 
of the fathers wanted them to get a more structured education on English 
grammar. To this end he had purchased elementary level textbooks. . .from 
Ireland. So I was an American teaching two boys from Africa English in Japan 
using Irish textbooks. It was a good experience. One of the surprising things about 
it though was listening to the boys talk about the taunts they received at school, 
and they were black in an all Japanese school. Growing up in the United States, 
you see racism, but it isn't as overt as what those boys described. 

The main source of his English teaching experience, however, came when he 
went back to Japan after he graduated college. He taught in a small town of about 5,000 
people. "I was the white guy. . . the foreigner," he said. He spoke extensively about the 
education system in Japan and how it differed from the education system in the U.S. For 
example, he said, 



In Japan, you have to pay a lot of education fees. Children are expected to go to 
what's called JuKu. It's cram school; so basically, your kid goes Saturday or 
maybe he goes after school for two hours every day to learn all the stuff he should 
be learning in school. Japanese teachers are surprised we don't have that in 
America... In Japan, that's expected... But schools aren't just there to educate, 
they're there to socialize. Teachers have a lot of responsibilities in that regard. If 
you're a teacher, like a home room teacher, and two of your kids get arrested, 
they'll call you probably before they'll call the parents, because it's your 
responsibility to teach them to be better citizens. You go into it thinking, "Oh, I'm 
going to go to Japan, and I'm going to teach English," and there is a lot going on 
in the background they should probably tell you about, but it's all kind of weird, 
so they don't really want to tell you about it. 



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Erik described how each town had an English teacher. He felt that part of the 
reason each little town had an English teacher was to teach the kids English, but the other 
part of the reason was for the money the town received to have an English teacher. He 
described how it worked. 

So, your town gets say a lock of say 100,000 dollars. 40,000 of that is for your 
salary and maybe another 10,000 for benefits or whatever, your health insurance 
comes out of your salary. Well, the town keeps the rest of the money. So, every 
little town in Japan, or at least where I was, they had an English teacher. . .Well, if 
the town is getting 50,000 dollars to have this teacher, beyond the salary or 
whatever, they're going to keep the extra money. They're going to take it. They're 
not stupid, because they can use that money. So on the one hand, you're there to 
teach. On the other hand, you're just an excuse to redistribute money to the 
countryside. 

Erik described that he chose a rural town to teach in because it was a way to push 
himself out of his comfort zone to better his Japanese. He shared with me in our first 
interview, 

I just wanted to be out in the middle of nowhere. You sink or swim. Either my 
Japanese gets better or. . .My grandma was like, "what are you going to do for 
food?" - "Well, they have food you know, if I get really hungry, I'll just go next 
door and make frowny faces and point at my stomach. I think it's hungry." 

While he was in Japan, Erik taught preschool, elementary school, middle school, 
high school, and adults. 

In a typical week I would go to the middle school twice a week, the high school 
twice a week and the elementary schools once a week. Once a week in the 
evening I would teach an adult English conversation class for about two hours. 
Once or twice a month I would also visit the preschool. 

He mentioned again some of the differences he observed between Japanese and 
U.S. education systems. 



The big difference between Japanese middle schools versus American middle 
schools is the kids stay put. They don't move. So English teacher comes, English 

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teacher goes. Math teacher comes, math teacher goes. History teacher comes, 
history teacher goes. To me the most interesting thing about the school, and it 
starts at the elementary school level, is that the kids run the school. So in the 
elementary schools and these little schools, you would have lunch, and so the fifth 
and sixth graders would make sure the first and second graders were doing what 
they were supposed to do; and the third and fourth graders were doing what 
they're supposed to do. So even as children, they're given responsibility and they 
expect you to work as a group. So I thought that was really interesting. 

Erik also asserted that in Japan, in schools or elsewhere, "it's all about knowing 
your relationship to other people" and "networking." When I asked him how he fit into 
that as a visiting English teacher, he said, "That's where it gets weird." 

Generally, you're treated better. As a whole, Japanese like Americans. They don't 
like Koreans so much. They don't like South Asians so much; so as an American, 
I was treated better. For somebody else, a black or a Korean, I can't say. It 
depends on where you are and the people. My wife's family didn't want her to 
marry me, because I was a foreigner, and they were open about that. . .But where I 
was too, and they have a lot more respect for teachers. It was. . .1 was treated a 
little better. 

Part of Erik's teaching responsibilities involved working with a group of high 
school students who were going to study abroad in Colorado for a farm stay, which was 
essentially a home stay, according to Erik, but they would be working on farms. "We did 
everything from standard conversation practice, to table manners, to going over 
agricultural vocabulary. It wasn't your standard English teaching experience, but I liked it 
because it was for very practical reasons." 

When I asked Erik how he decided to pursue teaching high school history in the 
U.S., he said that finances were not a concern for him, and therefore, he decided to go 
into teaching purely because that is what he wanted to do. "I have a great love of history. 
Also I feel an obligation to give something back to society." A contributing factor to his 



213 



decision to go into teaching was an important conversation Erik had with his grandfather 
before he passed away. 

And one of the things we had talked about before he had died was, "What would 
you like to do?" He was always saying to me, "Do something you want to do, and 
you never work a day in your life. Do something you don't want to do and every 
day is a chore." So, when he passed away, that really sort of came back to me. 

Due to his experience teaching abroad, Erik rated his overall teaching experience 
at 4.5 out of five. Erik admitted, "I've never been to a U.S. school - you know since I 
graduated high school," which was many years ago. However, his English teaching 
experience in Japan appeared to give him a sense of confidence at the beginning of the 
semester. He rated his confidence to teach ELLs at the beginning of the course at a five 
out of five. 

Beliefs and Understandings about Linguistic Diversity 

Based on Erik's LATS scores, he appeared to enter the course with a relatively 
high tolerance of linguistic diversity in classroom settings. This was not surprising given 
Erik's extensive time spent abroad living, teaching, and traveling. Erik did not believe 
that to be considered American, one should speak English. However, he wrote a side note 
on that statement: "though all Americans should be able to speak English." He claimed 
on the survey that he would support government funding for ELL programs, that parents 
should not be counseled to speak English with their children, and that it is extremely 
important for people in the U.S. to learn a language in addition to English. Erik expressed 
that the rapid learning of English should not be a priority if it meant losing the ability in 
one's native language and that having ELLs in class would not be detrimental to the 
learning of the other students. 

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There were two items on the survey in which Erik indicated being uncertain. He 
was not sure whether or not regular classroom teachers should be required to receive pre- 
service or in-service training to be prepared to meet the needs of ELLs, or whether or not 
the learning of English should take precedence over learning subject matter. 

Because of his own personal experiences in foreign countries, he said that the 
"sink or swim" approach with children does not work. "People always say that children 
learn languages more quickly than adults, but that doesn't mean that they don't need help 
or instruction. Just throwing them into the deep end of the pool and expecting them to 
swim doesn't work." Erik expanded on this thought in our first interview, indicating that 
he started the course with an ability to empathize with ELLs because of his own 
experience as a second language learner. 

I think I have a little more empathy for kids who are in sort of the similar situation 
here in the United States, where certainly you're here - not by choice, because 
you're six, you're seven, eight, nine, or whatever. But you're expected to swim, 
and everyone just says, 'well, kids learn languages fast.' And, that doesn't really 
help you. 

He further indicated an ability to empathize, or in his words sympathize, with ELLs on 
his background questionnaire. 

I have a great deal of sympathy for people trying to operate in a language that 
they aren't comfortable with. Additionally ELLs have an incredible breadth of life 
experiences that serve to enrich their classrooms and schools. . .For American 
students ELLs are an amazing opportunity to realize that there is more to the 
world than what they see on T.V. or the internet. 

The above statement was supported by his indication that he would be very 
interested in having ELLs in his classroom. He rated his level of interest at a five out of 
five. 



215 



Reported Changes as a Result of Course Participation 

Erik assessed his level of knowledge of ELL issues at the beginning of the course 
at an average of "some knowledge" of each of the ten topics. His overall reported level of 
knowledge of the ten topics increased to an average between "quite a bit of knowledge" 
and "extensive knowledge." He reported that he had at least "some knowledge" of all ten 
topics, but for six out of the ten he reported having "extensive knowledge" by the end of 
the course. Therefore, Erik perceived an increase in informational knowledge. 

The results of his LATS scores did not change much from the beginning to the 
end of the semester. He remained uncertain as to whether or not teachers should receive 
training to work with ELLs, but did change his response about whether or not the 
learning of English should take precedence over learning subject matter. At first he was 
uncertain, but at the end he decided that learning English should not take precedence over 
learning content. This was one of the important concepts that Erik gained as a result of 
his participation in the course. "The thing I got from this course is how important it is to 
teach the subject matter to the child, even if they don't quite understand the language." In 
his words, 

It doesn't matter if they learn it in Spanish, German, or French, or Russian, or 
whatever, as long as he knows who George Washington is and why George 
Washington is important. That is the important thing. And you know maybe it 
takes him a little while to figure it out in his native language, but as long as he 
gets it at the end, that's all that matters. So, speaking English, they will catch up 
with that eventually... 

Erik's interest in having ELLs in his classroom remained very high, but his 
confidence to teach them decreased. This is likely due to a shift in his thinking, which 



216 



occurred as a result of his course participation. He wrote about it in his final reflection 
paper. 

So for me, coming out of this class my biggest change in thinking has involved 
understanding that what ESL learners need and want here in America is quite 
different than what ESL learners in other countries might be looking for. I think 
that for me, it is something I need to remember going forward. . .1 had, or thought 
I had, a good understanding of the practical side of ESL education. Unfortunately, 
I'm thinking now that my experiences in Japan aren't one hundred percent 
transferable to education here in the United States. 

In our final interview, Erik expanded on that new understanding by describing some of 
the differences he observed between the two educational systems. 

In Japan, kids they take a test when they go from middle school to high school, 
from high school to college, then college to business, so they are always testing. 
In English, they are studying sort of either business English or written English, 
it's not spoken English. They are not testing them on comprehension or listening. 
They are taking English because it's going to be on their tests, and they have to 
know English to pass the test. So, it's like studying for the SATs. So, you start 
studying for the SATs in seventh grade, and all of your classwork is designed to 
get you to pass the SATs over and over again; so you can move up to the next 
rung in the ladder, so you can study for the SATs some more, so you can take the 
SATs again. That's fine, that's their system. I'm not going to criticize it, as much 
as I would or would not want to. But here in the U.S. it's different, because kids 
have a need and desire to speak English. When I was a kid I lived in Germany. I 
couldn't always speak to the German kids. So you want to play with your friends 
and have fun, but that language barrier is there. So, for a child coming to the U.S., 
and all of your friends speak English, there's an obvious desire to speak English. 
Reading and writing, I don't really care about that, I want to be able to talk to my 
friend. You know, I want to be able to explain fart jokes to him. . .trying to think 
like a second grader. I want to know what SpongeBob is talking about. So, the 
reading and writing - not so much, but the listening and comprehension, that's 
key to them. As much as your parents want you to succeed in school, we're social 
animals. Being able to communicate with the group is step one of being a social 
animal. So that's sort of what changed me this semester, is that realization of the 
kids. 

Another new understanding that Erik developed as part of the course was an 

awareness that there are multiple factors that affect a student's performance in school, 

beyond motivation or parental support. He explained in our final interview. 

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Even small things can make a difference in how your school performs, or how 
your kids do. Find out, "Hey, what's the problem?" Asking kids, "How come 
you're missing class? How come you weren't here?" You know, "My mom 
couldn't bring me." "Why couldn't you take the bus?" "We don't have money for 
the bus." You have to find out what's going on. I think a lot of it is almost all of 
your teachers have been to college. Most people who go to college are from you 
know fairly middle-class suburban areas, so there's an underrepresentation of 
minority and poor in the educational system, because the people that sort of grew 
up in that environment understand sort of this is what these people are dealing 
with. So, you come into a school, and it's like, "You have to respect me and be on 
time." You're wondering, "Why are you disrespectful? Why are you late? Why 
aren't you doing your homework?" That you're hungry, you don't have heat in 
your house, or whatever reason. 

It was evident that Erik developed new understandings based on information he 
acquired as a result of his participation in the course. In the next section I will discuss the 
specific activities that contributed to the development of those new understandings. 

Specific Reactions to Course Activities 

For the first field assignment, the ESL directors' panel discussion video, Erik 
found it "very helpful" and "eye-opening." He indicated that he was "surprised both at 
the level of information the panelists had and the disparity in ELL numbers by district." It 
was through watching the panel discussion that Erik first began to realize the importance 
of teaching both content and language to ELLs. He also felt the panel highlighted the 
importance of parental and community involvement to the academic success of ELLs. 
"Finding teachers, other students, or community volunteers that can help enable 
communication and education is vitally important." 

In his write-up of the activity, Erik mentioned that he felt as though the education 
of ELLs is going to become even more important as time goes on, and he indicated that 
he was supportive of the idea of local school districts requiring ESL endorsements. 



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The final and possibly the most important point the panel made was the ESL 
education is going to become more important as time goes on. Non-native English 
speakers are the fastest growing segment of the student population, and there is 
every indication that this will continue into the foreseeable future. Federal 
regulations require forty hours of ESL education and in some Colorado school 
districts an ESL endorsement is required. Personally I think this is the way to go, 
going that extra mile may cause some inconveniences, but the final goal is worth 
it. 

Erik also expressed a feeling of anger when he spoke about the distribution of 
funds for each of the local school districts, which he learned about in the video. 

I'm kind of angry at the distribution of funds, I guess, for ELLs but also in the 
school districts. <One district> needs a lot more money, versus <the other 
districts. > And you know, these guys have the need, but the way our funding 
system is set up. . .it's just the disparity, it's not even, it's not fair. You have 
underfunded schools that are overwhelmed with these special needs kids, and I 
don't mean special education, but they have needs. The kids aren't getting the 
services they deserve... It annoys me, because it's just so ineffective. You have 
the kids who need the least, with the most, and the kids that need the most, they 
have the least. 

For the cultural field experience, field assignment two, Erik chose to attend a 
Russian orthodox church. He admitted that he expected "to suffer through a dreary, 
unintelligible service for an hour or so," but found that he was pleasantly surprised. 
"What I got was a nice lesson that nothing is ever what you might think it is." He made 
connections between that experience and his role as an educator. "As an educator I think 
understanding could be helpful when dealing with people coming from Eastern Europe 
and the former Soviet Union. Understanding the church helps to understand the family." 

While Erik found the experience itself enjoyable, he described being unsure about 
the value of the activity. He did not feel as though it helped him gain a greater 
understanding of ELLs. On the activity impact questionnaire, he commented. 



219 



I'm not sure about this one. It felt a little weird, maybe touristy to go and watch a 
non-English event just for the sake of 'experiencing' it. On the surface I 
understand the point. Many Americans never leave their home country, so getting 
a better feel for what it's like not being a member of the dominant language group 
is a good experience, just not sure that this is the best way. And honestly I don't 
have a better idea. 

Erik revealed in his interview that this assignment did not do much for him since 
he had lived abroad and had experienced being a second language learner in a foreign 
country on numerous occasions, and therefore, the cultural activity felt superficial to him. 
Also, since his wife is Japanese, he told me that he lived that experience daily at home as 
well. 

In stark contrast to his reactions towards the second field experience, Erik found 
the third field experience extremely useful. He spent an entire day observing several one- 
on-one tutoring sessions and in-class visits at a local elementary school. He wrote in his 
write-up, "This was the first time I had the opportunity to observe English education for 
non-native students in an American school, and I was pleasantly surprised." Erik 
discussed some of his major take-aways from the assignment in the conclusion of his 
write-up. 

In conclusion I have to say that I learned a little bit more than I was expecting to. 
From the first field exercise I knew that parents had an important role to play in 
the ELL's success, but I think I underestimated just how important their role is, 
and how big a role their culture influences them. I also had not quite realized just 
how many different and valid approaches there are teaching ELLs. On the other 
hand, <the school I visited> is in a fairly wealthy area, with good parental 
involvement and a low number of ELLs. I don't think it is necessarily 
representative of the educational experience of all ELLs in the state. 

It was evident that Erik "really got a lot out of the class visit." In fact, he said that 

he got more out of that activity than he got out of anything else in the course. On the 

activity impact questionnaire he wrote, "We need more of these!" 

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Erik did not mention the readings much in our interviews. He admitted that he 
struggled to keep the readings for the ESL for Educators course separate from the 
readings he was doing for another course. When I asked him if anything in the readings 
had struck him or challenged his thinking, he responded, "Honestly, I have trouble 
sometimes keeping the other class readings separate from the ESL readings; so I'm not 
sure how to answer that." 

While he did not discuss the class readings much in our interviews, he did 
comment on the textbooks and one of the articles on the mid- semester activity impact 
questionnaire. For the How Languages are Learned text (Lightbown & Spada, 2006) he 
wrote, 

Having taught English to non-native speakers before, I sort of come to this 
experience from a different angle. The thing I really like about the book is the 
number of "oh yeah" moments I've had while reading it. I especially enjoyed 
Chapter 6 (six proposals for classroom teaching) because I had seen all of the 
described teaching methods in action but had never read a formal analysis of 
them. 

For the Sheltered Content Instruction text (Echevarria & Graves, 2010) he wrote, 
"I like this book, a lot. It is laid out well, and the activity examples/suggestions are pretty 
nice. I just wish the book was a little longer." 

Unlike any of the other participants, Erik also commented on some of the 
supplemental readings. He admitted that there were some he did not read, but commented 
on one that he did. It was an article about bilingual education in the United States 
(Ovando, 2003). 



Ovando does a good job creating a historical narrative of the arc of language 
education in this country. Overall, though the article was essentially propaganda 

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for one particular point of view. Ovando confounds bilingual education with ESL 
education, using the two interchangeably when in fact they are very different. His 
statement that "There are two possible paths that we can take. One is the 
language-affirming path of two-way bilingual education, in which language- 
minority children and children from monolingual English homes learn side-by- 
side in multilingual classrooms, becoming bilingual and cross-culturally 
competent together. The other is the predominant path of the 1980s and 1990s: 
resisting the use of languages other than English in classrooms." His argument is 
great if you are a speaker of whatever language is chosen to be 2 n , such as 
Spanish, but leaves children who aren't Spanish speakers even more worse off 
since in this system they now have to learn two languages they aren't familiar 
with. Presenting Ovando's essay as a sort of fait accompli is dangerous. A more 
balanced approach would be better. 

In addition, Erik commented on the developmental sequence writing sample 
activity that took place as part of a weekly threaded discussion. He wrote on the 
questionnaire, "This is something I had never thought about, or even remotely knew 
existed. New things are always good. The fact that it is so obviously useful makes it so 
much more important. It would be nice if there was a class activity/exercise that lets us 
work with this more." He rated the activity as interesting, engaging and helpful in 
challenging him to think differently about ELLs. 

In our final interview, Erik commented extensively on his research paper. He 
conducted a great deal of research that began with the purpose of fulfilling the 
assignment, but then continued out of genuine, personal interest. He found quite a few 
statistics about the ELL population that resulted in reactions from Erik ranging from 
shock to confusion to anger to sadness. As an example, he expressed frustration when he 
described what he learned about the drop-out and graduation rates of ELLs and the effect 
of those on society. 



Essentially, we're giving up on 50% of these kids. And they're growing larger 
than the population at large right now, which means you know they're going to 
grow up as people who are prison inmates and have substandard jobs, where the 



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number of minimum wage jobs is growing. So, by not educating them, we are 
impoverishing ourselves. 

Erik indicated that while he learned a lot from his personal research endeavors, he 
felt that the research paper activity itself could have been structured differently. 

It just sort of seemed like, "Boom, here's a paper, write it." I haven't written a 
school paper for like a decade, so it was just like, "Hey, cool." Let's swim the 
English Channel, too. Let's climb Pike's Peak, just jump on out there. It's kind of 
like running. If you haven't run for a while, it's gonna hurt if you just decide, 
"Hey, I'm going to go run five miles." I'm not one of those guys who could just 
jump up and do a marathon. Granted it was double spaced, which I think double 
space is cheating. I mean, I've written work papers before, but that's more 
technical, and you're sticking a lot of diagrams and charts, and then you do 
analysis. It's not quite the same. There's no thesis. You just do bullet points and 
work your way through. . .You have to figure this is the first class people are 
taking in this program, and so you don't know where everybody is coming from. 
Some people may have just finished their senior year of high school or college 
last year, but other people, like me, maybe haven't actually been in an academic 
setting for a decade or so. It doesn't have to be a big deal. Just, you know, 
"What's your thesis?" Or, you know you need like 10 or 15 sources, "Well, where 
are you getting, what sources are you using? Well, go start finding those now. 
Run those by us; make sure that they're actually ok." Yeah, give us a bibliography 
before you write the paper, because your grade is based on the final paper, so 
there's a lot of stress involved in, "Hey, I don't want to screw this up, and I'm not 
quite sure what I'm doing." 

With respect to the journals, Erik rated them somewhere in between not helpful 
and extremely helpful. He commented on the mid-semester activity impact questionnaire, 
"I think the journal exercise is good in that it makes you look at your own personal 
experiences and consider how much, or how little you bring to the table as far as teaching 
ELLs." No other comments were made about journals or reflections. 

With respect to the online learning environment, even though Erik worked in IT, 

he rated his confidence at the beginning of the semester as a one out of five, suggesting 

that he was not very confident or comfortable with online learning. He explained, "Yeah, 

I'm not really a fan of online courses. . .It seems kind of difficult sometimes to figure out 

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what you're supposed to be doing." He also admitted that with the set-up of the online 
class, "you only look at your course stuff maybe twice, maybe three times a week, for 
some people, I think it's easy to forget." This feeling was reflected in Erik's lack of 
participation in online discussions. He only contributed three posts throughout the entire 
semester. 

On the mid-semester activity impact questionnaire, he rated the online discussions 
as being extremely helpful. He wrote, "They are good. It forces you to consider what we 
are learning in depth and critically. I also have to confess my contributions have been 
marginal." On the end-of- semester activity impact questionnaire, however, his ratings of 
online discussions dropped to threes and fours out of five and did not add any additional 
comments. Erik also indicated on his final questionnaire that his confidence and comfort 
level with online learning went up slightly from a one to a two, but said that if given the 
choice, he would take this course face-to-face because he thinks he would get more out of 
it. 

Overall, based on our conversations and on Erik's ratings of the course activities, 
I would conclude that the class visit and panel discussion video had the greatest impact 
on Erik's thinking. He also indicated that the developmental sequence writing samples 
activity challenged his thinking. While Erik rated the exam very high on the 
questionnaire, he did not comment on its impact. He rated the two textbooks (Echevarria 
& Graves, 2010; Lightbown & Spada, 2006) and the research paper as most helpful in 
preparing him to work with ELLs and challenging him to think differently about the 
education of ELLs. 



224 



Empathy and Perspective-Taking 

Two common themes that emerged during our interviews and within Erik's 
reflections were those of empathy and perspective-taking. Erik seemed to possess the 
ability to take on other's perspectives and empathize. "I think I have a better 
understanding of some of the difficulties these students face and have a better insight into 
how to teach these kids the course material." Several examples have already been cited 
throughout Erik's portrait based on his personal experiences. 

It was interesting to me that Erik's sense of empathy and perspective-taking often 
appeared informed, backed up by knowledge, facts, information, and experience. He also 
expressed emotion when he tried to understand what others were thinking, feeling, or 
experiencing. For example, he described feeling sad that ELLs did not appear to have the 
same opportunities that others did. He then related that sadness to time he spent in an 
orphanage in China and connected those emotions to his school visit for the course. 



It's sad that these kids don't have that. When I was in China, a friend of mine, 
who's possibly the nicest guy, and this was actually in Time Magazine. He works 
for a charity in China; he was working with orphanages there. They were for 
abandoned children, kids with cleft palates. In China, there's a one child policy, 
so infanticide is not uncommon, but more common is they'll just leave kids at a 
police station, or wherever, and they have a cleft palate, or they have some sort of 
disability or disfigurement, and they're poor rural families, and they just can't 
afford the surgery. The reality is the surgery isn't that expensive. Well, these guys 
work in Pennsylvania, and they'd come over once a year, and all they would do 
for three days was cleft palates. They would do like 80 kids and then fly back. So, 
we went to the orphanage, and you just felt so bad, because these kids. . .One little 
boy, he had been burned, and his family just left him out in a field to die, and 
somebody else found him. And there are kids there with minimal disabilities, 
physical disabilities. There was a girl there, she had a clubfoot, and their families 
didn't want them. So, we went there, and we played with them, and we left, and 
you just felt so bad, because you were leaving all of these kids. You can't save 
them, you just have to accept that, but it just makes you feel really bad inside. So, 
it's sort of the same thing. When I was at <the school visit>, I was thinking about 
those kids. There were a couple of kids that were pretty disruptive. One kid who 

225 



was sort of brutal on me, they weren't quite sure what to do with them. He had 
come from an orphanage in Russia, so he'd get angry and hit other kids, the 
teachers, so they weren't sure what to do with him. What's going to happen to 
him? He seemed perfectly nice when I met him, but he gets angry, he gets 
frustrated, and acts out, and then. . .Then, you know the statistics on all this. . .1 
guess they brought him over when he was six. So, whatever was going on for six 
years. I know how bad orphanages are in the U.S.; I can't imagine how awful they 
are in Russia, physical or emotional abuse. But yeah, you can't save them all. It 
makes you sad. Yeah, it's your natural human. . .If you didn't have that you'd be a 
bad person. 

Erik told me about another time he felt bad for leaving a child behind. 



My wife is Japanese and we went back to her home town last year for her sister's 
wedding. And a friend of her family's, they run a Buddhist elementary school; 
and so I went, and they had a preschool attached to the school. And so I went and 
just did you know. . .basically the hokey pokey for three hours. But it was like 
Alabama hot and my heart. . .1 felt like I was going to die by the end of it. But, 
there was a little girl, and I had a lot of Japanese friends in college do this, they 
would do this. Her parents had sent her back to Japan from the U.S. to spend time 
with her grandparents, but she spoke no Japanese. And so, they let her stay with 
me through all three classes. And when I left, she started crying. I felt bad, 
because you're like, "I don't want you to be sad," because I was like the first 
person in like a month that she could talk to. 

One example of Erik taking on an informed perspective of others was in his 
discussion of Japanese teachers' unions and how their history may have contributed to a 
sense of guilt he believed they felt. 



The teachers' unions, there's two big ones in Japan. They argue that the money 
should be spent teaching Japanese teachers English versus. . ."You should be 
sending our teachers to America for four years or however long, instead of 
bringing these college kids over for two years. Then they just go home and there's 
no benefit." Part of the argument that where I was I was the foreigner and little 
kids would come up to me and say, "Hey uncle, are you a foreigner?" Because 
they didn't know, they'd never seen one. Part of the payoff is you're exposing 
these kids to people that they would not normally meet. Yeah, there was a lot 
of. . .though in Japan, well before WWII, the schools were used to indoctrinate the 
population that the Emperor was a God, and it was their duty to die for the 
empire. So after the war, the teachers' unions were founded, and they were 
adamantly against anything, any sort of indoctrination. They felt it was sort of 
their. . .they were partly culpable as educators, because they had taken part of this, 
and you know provided all these soldiers. I think something like 2 million soldiers 

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died in WWII, and you know most of them came from little towns - big cities, 
too. But these teachers, you send half your one-room schoolhouse to war and only 
half of those come back. There's a certain amount of guilt that goes with it, and so 
it's weary to go to graduation ceremonies, because I worked at the board of 
education. They would play the National Anthem. I worked at the board of 
education, but I was seated with the teachers. The board of education would stand, 
students would stand, parents would stand, teachers would stay seated. Because as 
unions, they are opposed to the national anthem as a sign of militarism. And it's 
just sort of, nobody tells you this before you get there. 

Another example of Erik taking on the perspective of others related again to the 
differences between the Japanese and U.S. education systems. Erik took on the 
perspective of the parents in the U.S. and said, "If you tried to tell parents that they had to 
spend $1,000 a month so somebody else could teach your kids what you're not teaching 
them, they would come after you with sticks. They would chase you out of town. I don't 
have any kids, but I'm pretty sure about this." 

Erik's apparent capacity for empathy and perspective-taking of others offered 
insights into his way of knowing. I will discuss what I felt was a tendency towards a self- 
authoring way of knowing in the next section. 

Sources of Authority and Self- Authorship 

My experiences of Erik resonated most closely with a self-authoring way of 

knowing (Baxter-Magolda, 2001; Drago-Severson, 2004; Kegan, 1982). One of the 

features of a self- authoring meaning-making system is the concern with consequences for 

personal integrity and meeting one's own standards. Therefore, when Erik discussed 

feeling as though he should give something back to society, it appeared as though this 

was based on his own personal belief system. "I just have this silly idea I should be a 

productive member of society, or a more productive member of society." This also 

appeared to be true when he mentioned choosing a remote town in Japan in order to force 

227 



himself to improve his language ability and "sink or swim." My interpretation was that he 
made that choice based on his own internal authority and no one else's. He wanted to 
improve his Japanese and he found what he considered the most effective way to 
accomplish that goal for himself. 

Self- authoring knowers "can control their feelings and emotions and can discuss 
their internal states" (Drago-Severson, 2004, p. 27). I found evidence of this meaning- 
making feature in Erik's statements. For example, when he described feeling sad about 
leaving the orphanage in Russia, he was able to take a step back from his emotions, 
reflect on them, and talk about them. Similarly, he described feeling bad for leaving that 
one little girl in Japan who looked to him for native language support. These reactions 
appeared in line with his internal structure of beliefs and values. In fact, when looking for 
instances of subject-object shifts, I did not find any in Erik's statements. He did not 
appear to be subject to any of the experiences he talked about, which led me to believe 
that he was able to reflect on his emotions and experiences and in general, take them as 
object. 

I mentioned earlier in this portrait that Erik appeared able to empathize and take 

on the perspectives of others in an informed way, an ability which seems to be in line 

with a self-authoring way of knowing. Self-authoring knowers "have a way of 

understanding how the past, present, and future relate" (Drago-Severson, 2004, p. 27). 

Erik demonstrated an understanding on several occasions of how the past, present and 

future related. For example, when Erik described the Japanese teachers' unions, he 

described their past history with WWII, how that led to a sense of guilt on behalf of the 

teachers, which influenced their actions at events such as graduation ceremonies. 

228 



Erik also discussed the inter-relatedness of his own past, present and future. For 
example, he discussed his reasons for joining the Army, which ultimately led to heart 
problems, which resulted in his earning disability pay, which influenced his decision to 
teach, which led him to the ALP program, and will likely influence his future career and 
life path. 

"Competence, achievement, and responsibility are the most important concerns of 
people who make meaning in this way" (Drago-Severson, 2004, p. 28). I found this to be 
the case with Erik. He admitted that he did not have to work. However, because of his 
sense of responsibility, he wanted to work. He set to achieve a standard he set for 
himself, which was to be a contributing and productive member of society. 

Summary of Erik's Experiences 

Erik spent about a quarter of his life outside of the U.S., beginning as a child 
when he and his family moved around a lot due to his father's job in the Air Force. His 
first memories as a child are of his time in Germany. He lived and traveled extensively 
throughout the U.S. growing up. Unfortunately, his father passed away when Erik was 
16, and shortly thereafter he decided to join the Army. After the army he went to college 
and studied abroad in Japan for a year. After he graduated he returned to Japan to teach 
English for three years. Due to the fact that the Army originally misdiagnosed his heart 
condition, Erik learned that he was going to receive disability pay for life. At that point 
he decided to move to China, where he met his wife, who was Japanese. Because 
finances were not a concern for Erik, he chose to go into teaching because of his love of 
history and a desire to be a productive member of society. 

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Erik appeared able to take on an informed perspective of others and make 
decisions based on his own internal source of authority. Therefore, I inferred that Erik 
was operating on some level under a self-authoring meaning-making system. That way of 
thinking appeared to shape his life decisions and his course experiences. 

Overall, I believe this course served as an informative rather than transformative 
experience for Erik. He reported having gained a great deal of knowledge and developed 
new understandings about the education of ELLs. The panel discussion video and the 
ESL classroom visit appeared to be the course activities that had the greatest impact on 
Erik. He reported that the biggest change in his thinking over the course of the semester 
was the realization that his experiences teaching ESL in Japan were not transferable to 
teaching high school history to ELLs in the U.S. That realization led him to decrease in 
his perceived level of confidence to teach ELLs. 

In conclusion, the content knowledge Erik gained as a result of his participation in 
course activities led to new realizations about the education of ELLs. At the same time, 
his fundamental thinking, attitudes and beliefs about linguistic diversity did not appear to 
change as a result of his course participation. I did not find evidence of a change in how 
he thought, which would suggest that transformation did not occur for Erik during this 
semester-long course. 

Unfortunately, Erik did not receive a passing grade for the course to count 
towards the ALP program. Therefore, if he continues in the ALP program he will likely 
need to repeat the course. 



230 



Eva 
Background and Teaching Experience 

My impression of Eva is that she is an energetic, enthusiastic, and hard-working 
teacher. She is also a married mother of two young children. She grew up in Virginia 
where she earned her B.A. in Spanish from Virginia Tech. She left Virginia and headed 
for North Carolina where she taught high school Spanish, English, and ESL. After that, 
she moved to Texas where she taught refugees in a newcomer program in a middle 
school. This experience had a great impact on Eva. 

These children taught me, humbled me, and inspired me every day. They came 
from Kosovo, Sudan, Iraq, Somalia, Liberia, Nigeria, Mexico, Nicaragua, Bosnia, 
Rwanda... To hear their stories of destruction, war, chaos, violence, poverty, and 
being forced to flee their homes would break the strongest man or woman. Yet, 
they came to class ready to learn, live and carry on. . .These are my heroes and the 
reason I do what I do. 

When her husband joined the U.S. Air Force, they moved to Florida where she 
was an ESL endorsement instructor for a local school district. She also taught ESL at the 
community college, elementary Spanish, and several classes for a homeschooling group. 
During her time in Florida Eva earned her MA. in Education Leadership, Curriculum and 
Instruction from the University of West Florida. 

One of Eva's greatest success stories came from a time when she worked with a 
local school district in Georgia whose ELL population was not making AYP (Adequate 
Yearly Progress). Because of her expertise and her strong drive to advocate for ELLs, the 
district hired her to assist them in making some changes. She was able to help the school 
district reorganize its entire program by implementing an endorsement program, revising 



231 



and instituting better policies, and providing professional development and assistance to 
all staff. The following year the school district was able to meet its AYP goals. 

After Eva left Georgia, she and her family moved to North Dakota where she 
earned her Ph.D. in Teaching and Learning from the University of North Dakota. Her 
dissertation and research interests revolve around collaboration between mainstream and 
ELL teachers. Eva taught courses in the Department of Teaching and Learning while in 
North Dakota, and she continued to teach online classes for her alma mater and was a full 
time instructor during the time of the study. She taught for the department of Curriculum 
and Instruction and taught both online and face-to-face courses in Linguistically Diverse 
Education. 

Course Experiences from the Instructor's Perspective 

Eva discussed with me her views on teaching and learning in general and about 
her experiences in the ESL for Educators course more specifically. Eva believes learning 
happens when people are open to new understandings and new ideas. She sounded 
hopeful that this type of learning would occur in the TCs over the course of the semester. 
She explained what she felt was most important for the TCs learn from her and from the 
course. 



I think for me, the value of understanding the English Language Learners as 
people and how they add, not only diversity, but understanding and acceptance of 
others is very important. It's not just that we have to teach them, but we should be 
valuing them as people, as well. 

It was important to me to inspire them and for them to learn more about the 
population, the ELL population, and to develop a sense of empathy, and also a 
sense of efficacy. 



232 



It came across as very important to Eva to have her passion for ELLs come 
through to the teacher candidates in her class. 

I talk about my experiences, and I think my passion for ELLs kind of comes 
through, so whatever I can do to add stories, just to kind of try to put them in the 
shoes of the ELLs or to demonstrate success, so that they know it can be done. 
So, anything that I could do, I tried. 

Observations of Change in Teacher Candidates 

With respect to the change that Eva observed in the TCs, she said that she felt the 
TCs that changed the most were the ones who were teaching at the time they took the 
course. 

So, I did see some of them coming without that sense of efficacy, not knowing 
what to do, especially if they were in a classroom and they had ELLs. They were 
the ones that I felt like I did see the most change, because it was directly 
applicable. 

As an example, she cited, "So, just even the discussions, throughout the semester, 
changed. From at first talking about. . .complaints about what's not going right turning 
into the joys of what was. That was pretty powerful." Eva was also "moved and touched 
by the teachers that did show a change from fearing ELLs to advocating for them. I really 
like that." 

And while Eva was excited to see positive change in some of the TCs, she was 
also frustrated by the fact that some of them did not put forth the effort she felt necessary 
to get out of the course what she wanted them to get out of the course. It frustrated her 
because she wanted the students to learn and to be successful. 



And when you want your students to be successful, and when things are important 
to you that I already mentioned at the beginning; then you know that they need to 
do the requirements, in order to meet the objectives, in order to develop that sense 
of efficacy and empathy. So, when they're not doing it, it's frustrating. 

233 



She found herself not only getting frustrated at times, but expressed a sense of sadness as 
well when she felt she could not reach the TCs. 

. . .if I couldn't impact change, that made me sad. I really have such a passion for 
these students and for making their lives better, so it's difficult when you feel like 
you can set the stage, but you can't be a player in it, and I try to be, but it was 
difficult, because when students didn't turn in assignments, or when they didn't 
take the assignments seriously, didn't take the assignment to heart, it made me 
really sad. 

Thoughts on Transformational Learning 

Eva discussed her thoughts about whether or not she felt she saw evidence of 
transformational learning on the part of the adult learners enrolled in the course. 

You know, I saw growth and learning, not necessarily transformational, because 
not everybody comes to you without an understanding, and without empathy, and 
without efficacy. Some already have some of that, and so, there'll be change, but 
not as much. 

Eva expressed a belief that greater change could have been possible had greater 
effort been put forth in some cases. "What would make me sad are the ones who come 
with low efficacy or low empathy and then didn't put forth the effort. I think it could 
have been greater change if they would have." 

Connected Teaching and the Online Learning Environment 

Eva appeared to identify with a connected form of teaching (Belenky, et al., 
1986). Connected teaching is in stark contrast to Paulo Freire's (1971) "banking" model 
of traditional education , which views the teachers' role as making deposits of 
information into the students' banks, and the students' role as storing the deposits of 
information. The connected teachers, rather, "support the evolution of their students' 



234 



thinking" (Belenky, et al., 1986, p. 218). They "support their students' thinking, but they 
do not do the students' thinking for them" (Belenky, et al., 1986, p. 218). 

This type of thinking was evident in Eva's interaction with Steven, which will be 
described in more detail later in this section. Eva and Steven had differing opinions 
which were debated at first in one of the weekly discussions, but later in a phone call 
initiated by Eva. Her response to that interaction was, "I can only give the experiences, 
the ideas, the discussions, set up an environment where he can change his beliefs, but I 
can't change his beliefs for him." This comment is representative of a connected 
classroom environment, which establishes "a culture for growth" (Belenky, et al., 1986, 
p. 221). 

Establishing a "culture for growth" in the online learning environment did not go 
without challenges. Eva discussed how the online environment made it more difficult to 
meet the goals she set for herself and for the course. 

It's really difficult, I think especially, because it's online. ..It is difficult, because 
you don't know who is reading the words; you don't know that they're 
interpreting it the same that way you are trying to write it, so I think my passion 
came through, and I think that some of them picked up on that. It hopefully 
inspired them. 

Lack of nonverbal communication in the online environment was also difficult for 
Eva. In referencing the particular instance of disagreement between her and one of the 
TCs, as mentioned above, Eva said, 



It's just if there's a comment that's made, then you can address it so much easier 
if it's face-to-face, because they can see your facial expressions and your 
intonations, and they know that you're not saying it back disrespectfully. 
Whereas if you're responding to a comment online, it's difficult to convey your 
ideas and express what you really want to say, but say it and know that they're 

235 



going to take it the way you meant it and that it's not going to sound disrespectful. 
So, that was pretty tough. 

As a follow-up to the disagreement mentioned above, Eva highlighted the importance for 
her of standing up for one's beliefs. Speaking of Steven, she said, 

But he would stand up for his beliefs, and I respect that. But determining, for me, 
how to then stand up for my beliefs, which I believe are based on experience in 
education, in this field, to someone who doesn't have experience in education, in 
this field; especially if their ideas and beliefs might be held as even racist, just 
very anti-ELL. And how to do that in a very respectful way but also challenge his 
views and make, see if I could make a path for a different point of view and that 
maybe he could take it in and consider it. So, I wanted to stand up for my beliefs, 
while he's standing up for his, and of course, I'm trying to change his way of 
thinking but understanding that only he can change. I can't change somebody, I 
can only kind of give the experiences, the ideas, the discussions, set up an 
environment where he can change his beliefs, but I can't change his beliefs for 
him. 

The nature of the difficulty of resolving such conflicts in an online environment 
challenged Eva's ability to create a culture of growth for all of the adult learners enrolled 
in the online class. 

An additional challenge of the online environment for Eva was the fact that it was 
difficult at times to remember "exactly which person said what." The difficulty of 
distinguishing voices conflicted with Eva's desire to create an environment conducive to 
an exploration of thinking, where knowledge is co-constructed and evolves based on the 
input of others. There were a few TCs, however, who stood out for various reasons. 

As you're reading through and responding to the different ideas, you don't always 
remember exactly who did say what. There are several students that stand out in 
my mind, more than others, and I think a lot of it has to do with the passion they 
brought with them. Or, if they're poor writers, that stands out in my mind, 
because I feel like if they're going to be teachers, we need to be modeling proper 
English, and so, there are a few students that I had to constantly say, "I don't 
understand what you mean. Can you clarify this for me?" So, usually who stands 



236 



out, is if they bring passion, if they did have opposing views, of course, that ends 
up standing out. 

One of the ways that helped Eva connect better with some of her students was 
phone calls. She did not call of the TCs as part of her instructional practice, but rather if a 
problem arose, she called them. The TCs with whom she spoke on the phone stood out in 
her mind as well, which helped her better determine the contributions they made to the 
class. "I remember conversations, probably because we had phone conversations." This 
realization led her to believe that adding in phone conversations as part of the course 
along with other technological adaptations to some of the assignments (e.g. adding voice 
to introductory PowerPoint presentations, incorporating more videos, etc.) in order to 
"add some human contact to the internet." 

Similar to the TCs who mentioned that keeping up with online discussions was a 
challenge, so did Eva. The semester of the study was an extremely busy semester for Eva, 
and she struggled at times to stay on top of the online course. "Because it was online, 
there were so many competing demands. . .it got pushed to the side." Competing 
commitments led her to do most of the work for the online course at night. Unfortunately, 
though, that cut into her personal commitments. 

. . .every time that they took my three hour chunk for a meeting, then that was 
three hours that I had to do <work for the online course> at night, which cut into 
family time, and my own children. Sometimes, I felt like if they e-mailed me, 
they wanted a response that minute, that it's online; so why am I not online? 

A lot of times, this was a night time class that I would teach, at night. So, then, 
once it started cutting into family time, it was after I got everybody to bed, so then 
it's a 9 to midnight, because it needs, it deserves the same attention that every 
other class gets. 



237 



The benefits, challenges, and limitations of the online environment appeared to be 
shared between the TCs and the instructor. At times the environment conflicted with a 
person's way of knowing or way of teaching, which added an additional dimension to 
their experiences and also contributed to the qualitatively different experiences of each of 
the participants, including the instructor. 

Overall Feelings about the ESL for Educators Course 

While Eva felt that the course resulted in both positive and negative outcomes, 
she reported being committed to making the ESL for Educators course the best it could 
be and vowed to continue to strive to reach all of her students. She felt proud that she 
"had some students say they were inspired to teach ELLs after taking this course," but 
also saw areas for improvement. She left me with these overall reflections about the 
course. 

Overall I found it to be very good. I think that from semester to semester, it 
depends on the group of students that you have as well as to how you're going to 
feel about the success of it. If we were going to look at, there's one out often that 
I don't feel like I reached, there's another one out often that could have done 
better, that efficacy and empathy were there, 90% of the students then had when 
they joined the class, left with a better understanding of how to meet the needs of 
their learners. But, I'm still not happy unless it's 100%, so we've always got 
room for improvement. 

Summary of Portraits 
Table 5.5 presents a summary of the participants. It highlights key aspects of their 
background and experiences and life circumstances. The table also includes tendencies of 
the TCs towards particular epistemological stances to include whether internal or external 
sources of authority predominate, whether they take a subject or object stance on their 



238 



experiences, characteristics of their ways of knowing, and course changes that would 
support their type of learning. 

Table 5.5 Summary of Individual Portraits 



Part. 


Background/ 


Life 


Epistemological Tendencies 


Course 


(grade) 


Experiences 


circumstances 


Source of 


Subject- 


Ways of 


Revisions to 








authority 


object 
stances 


knowing 


Support 
Learning 


Sofia 


Mother: 3 rd generation 


Female; late 


Internal 


Some 


Procedural 


Face-to-face 


(A) 


Mexican- American ; 


20 's; single 




difficulty 


(connected) 


meetings, voice 




Father: half 


mom of 1 young 




with 


knowing and 


and/or visual 




Japanese/part Native 


child; working 




subject- 


socializing 


images, 




American; born in 


as a contract 




object 


knowing 


opportunity to 




Athens, lived in 


engineer; not 




shifts 




engage in 




England, moved 


teaching; 








dialogue in small 




around a lot due to 


transitioning 








groups first, 




father's job in 


between 








opportunity to 




military; lived in 


engineering and 








explore personal 




mostly suburban/ 


education; was 








goals and values 




predominantly white 


taking Spanish 








(autobiography), 




areas; little experience 


class at time of 








additional class 




with diverse learners 


study; unsure 

about future 

career 








observations, 

opportunities for 

practical 

application of 

course content 


Kathy 


Grew up in 


Female; early 


External; 


More often 


Dualism, 


Provide 


(A) 


white/culturally 


50 's; divorced 


viewed 


in object 


instrumental 


additional 




diverse suburb of 


mother of two 


teacher as 


position 


and 


opportunities to 




Long Island, New 


children; 


source of 




socializing 


explore multiple 




York; traveled and 


teaching middle 


authority 




knowing 


perspectives and 




lived throughout U.S. 


school math and 








viewpoints, 




and abroad due to ex- 


drama; ran local 








incorporate more 




husband's job in 


bar/restaurant; 








practical 




military; lived and 


transitioning 








application, 




taught ESL in Korea 


between math 








additional 




for 2 years; 


and education 








materials that 




knowledge of Spanish 










address affective 




and Korean 










issues, provide 

opportunities for 

leadership role 

(being 

responsible for a 

weekly 

discussion) 



239 



Table 5.5 Cont'd 



Part. 


Background/ 


Life 


Epistemological Tendencies 


Course 


(grade) 


Experiences 


circumstances 






Revisions to 
Support 


Source of 


Subject- 


Ways of 








Authority 


object 
stance 


knowing 


Learning 


Patricia 


Grew up in Alaska 


Female; late 


Internal 


Object; no 


Procedural 


Practical 


(A) 


(white and Inuit) in 


20's; married 




apparent 


knower 


application 




Spani sh- speaking 


mother of 1 




struggles 




projects, 




home; father: half 


young child; 3 r 




with S-0 




opportunities to 




Mexican, half Apache 


year high school 




shifts 




analyze and 




Indian; father left 


science teacher 








critique ideas 




family when Patricia 


at local charter 








and goals, clear 




was in 9 th grade; 


school; 








instructions and 




moved to Colorado at 


conducted SIOP 








guidelines for 




age 16, three years' 


training at 








assignments, 




experience teaching 


school 








opportunities to 




ELLs high school 










share leadership 




science 










experience 

(SIOP trainings 

at school) 


Steven 


Moved around a lot as 


Male; late20's; 


Internal 


Subject 


Subjective 


Face-to-face 


(B-) 


a child, rough 
background, lived in 
Colorado since age 
12; studied abroad in 
Thailand; knowledge 
of Spanish and Thai; 

experience in 

administration and 

teaching in higher 

education 


in phase of self- 
exploration; 

aspires to be a 
teacher, lawyer, 

police officer, 
and senator; met 

someone who 
changed his life 






knower 


meetings, web 

chats, 

opportunities for 

dialogue to 
clarify personal 
values and goals 
(autobiography), 
more class 
observations, 
more hands-on 

experiences, 

opportunities for 

application of 

course content 


Erik 


Born in Germany, 


Male; late 30's; 


Internal 


Object; no 


Self- 


Alternate 


(C) 


moved around a lot as 


married to 




sign of 


authorship 


assignment to 




child due to father's 


Japanese 




difficulty 


(empathy 


replace cultural 




job in military; father 


woman; no 




with S-O 


and 


field experience, 




passed away when 


children 




shifts 


perspective- 


additional class 




Erik was 16; joined 








taking in 


observations, 




Army as paratrooper, 








particular) 


more guidance 




studied abroad in 










and structure on 




Japan; returned to 










research paper, 




Japan to teach ESL 










encourage 




for 3 years; lived in 










participation in 




China for 2 years after 










online 




that; was deemed 










discussions as 




disabled by military 










way to share his 




due to heart condition; 










experiences and 




financially secure; has 










explore others' 




knowledge of 










perspectives 




German, Japanese and 










further, 




Chinese 










opportunities for 
application of 
course content 



240 



CHAPTER 6 
SUMMARY AND DISCUSSION 
Summary 
This study examined the potential for transformative learning in a one semester 
online ESL for Educators course. Six adult learners enrolled in the course agreed to 
participate in the study: four females and two males ranging in age from late 20 's to early 
50 's. They were all enrolled in the alternative licensure program in a secondary content 
area, and this course was required as part of their program. Two of the participants, Kathy 
and Patricia, were teaching at the time of the study and the remaining four were not. 

I approached this study from a sociocultural perspective and drew on 
constructive-developmental theories of adult learning and development in my analysis of 
the data. The research questions that guided this study were: 

1. How did the six teacher candidates experience the online ESL for Educators 
course? 

a. What roles did their backgrounds and prior experiences play? 

2. What changes, or shifts in thinking, took place in the understandings and/or 
beliefs of teacher candidates about working with culturally and linguistically 
diverse learners as a result of their participation in the course? 

3. Which course activities, educational practices and processes, according to the 
TCs, contributed to transformational shifts in thinking? 

a. What role did the online learning environment play? 



241 



Through questionnaires, surveys, written reflections, and interviews, I was able to 
learn about the six participants' range of experiences, beliefs and understandings about 
linguistic diversity, and ways of knowing. I observed the TCs' reactions to the course 
activities and reported on them in chapters 4 and 5. Overall, the three field experiences 
(ESL directors' panel discussion video, cultural field experience, and ESL classroom 
observation and interview) appeared to have the greatest influence on their thinking with 
respect to working with English language learners. 

In my theoretical analysis of the data, I was also able to learn about some of the 
ways these adult learners made sense of their experiences and how those features of 
particular meaning-making systems may have influenced their course experiences. In 
addition, I found evidence that the participants developed new understandings about 
linguistic diversity and the education of ELLs as a result of their participation in the 
course. 

There were several factors that appeared to influence the teacher candidates' 
course experiences. First, their backgrounds and prior experiences formed their pre- 
existing assumptions about culturally and linguistically diverse learners and gave them a 
starting point for the course. Second, their teaching experience and teaching context 
appeared to influence their sense of urgency or feelings of relevance toward the course 
material. For example, Kathy and Patricia, the two participants that were teaching at the 
time of the study, indicated that the course content was important and relevant to their 
lives at that time. They were able to apply what they learned to their classroom practice 
and experienced positive outcomes. Third, the adult learners' qualitatively different ways 

of knowing and sources of authority influenced their satisfaction and/or frustration with 

242 



the structure of the course, the course activities and the online learning environment. 
Finally, the participants' life circumstances, more than age, appeared to influence their 
experiences of the course. Several of the adult learners were in a period of transition and 
the ESL for Educators course played different roles in each of their transitions. 

Based on my collection and analysis of the multiple forms of qualitative and 
quantitative data, I conclude that the online ESL for Educators course provided 
opportunities for learning. However, there was minimal evidence to support the claim 
that the course overall was an ideal context for transformative learning experiences. 
Several of the participants developed new understandings and experienced shifts in their 
thinking, and some even experienced transformational shifts in thinking, both personal 
and professional. However, the results imply that modifications in course and program 
design would result in a context more conducive for transformational learning. 

In this final chapter, I discuss the implications of the findings. I address the role 
of transitions and ways of knowing; highlight the important elements of experience, 
reflection and meaning-making in adult learning and development, and describe supports 
and challenges that have been found to promote development. I pay particular attention to 
the online learning environment when I present implications for promoting development 
through discussion. Based on the data and results of the study, I include suggestions for 
the revision of course activities and program design, address the limitations of the study, 
and provide areas in need of further research. Finally, I conclude this chapter and this 
dissertation with final thoughts on my own learning and development throughout this 
process as the researcher. 

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Promoting Adult Learning and Development 
Development does not stop in adolescence, but rather continues throughout adult 
life. In fact, there is no expiration date on one's ability to grow (Kegan & Lahey, 2009, p. 
323). Change is a major ongoing factor in adults' lives, which influences adult learners' 
engagement with learning (K. Taylor, Marienau, & Fiddler, 2000). Adults' needs for 
learning often grow out of their larger life issues, which I found to be the case with the 
six adult learners who participated in this study. 

Transitions 

All of the participants in the study were experiencing some sort of transition in 
their life: a change in relationships, routines, roles, assumptions, or beliefs. Transitions 
can take many forms. They can be anticipated (expected to occur), unanticipated 
(unexpected), nonevent (expected to occur, but did not occur), or sleeper transitions 
(occurs gradually, perhaps goes unnoticed for a while, but culminates in a change) 
(Merriam, 2005). The link between each type is first, their complexity, and second, their 
potential for learning and development. 

In a study conducted by Aslanian and Brickell (1980), 83% of adult learners could 
identify some transition in their lives, either past, present or future, as a reason for 
engaging in formal study. I found this to be true for the majority of the participants in the 
study. Sofia and Steven, for example, were in a period of self-discovery and trying to 
figure out which direction they wanted to go with their careers and their lives. Enrolling 
in the ALP program was one way to find answers. 



244 



To a certain extent, Jennifer and Erik were on similar paths of self -discovery, but 
for different reasons. Jennifer experienced an unanticipated transition when she lost her 
husband. She had always been his support system and had to learn how to adjust to a new 
set of roles, responsibilities, and relationships. She had to decide what she wanted to do 
and how to balance a career with her important role as a mother to four children who 
recently lost their father. Erik was transitioning into what he described as becoming "a 
productive member of society" in order to "give something back," which resulted from a 
culmination of several life events: losing his father at age 16, talking about life and 
careers with his grandfather before he passed away, returning to the U.S. after living 
abroad for several years, unexpectedly being given life-long financial security, and 
figuring out what he really wanted to do in life. Going back to school was the first step in 
that process. 

The types of transitions described above may have influenced the participants' 

reasons for going back to school and joining the ALP program. However, once they got 

there, a new set of transitions emerged. For example, Sofia, Kathy, and Jennifer each said 

that they were struggling with the transition from the world of math, science and 

engineering into the world of education. This is a form of sleeper transition. There was 

not a life event that suddenly changed their worlds. They were gradually realizing that 

their routines, among other things, were altered, which led to some level of discomfort 

for each of them. That discomfort, however, lent itself to a greater potential for learning. 

Not all transitions become learning experiences. "For learning to occur, an experience 

needs to be discomforting, disquieting, or puzzling enough for us not to reject or ignore 

it, but to attend to it and reflect on it. It is then that learning takes place" (Merriam, 2005). 

245 



Sofia, Kathy and Jennifer all mentioned their struggles between the two worlds, 
which suggested that each of them recognized the transition and was reflecting on it, 
crucial steps in the process of learning. They were becoming aware of the differences and 
trying to make sense of them in order to adapt to the new roles and expectations. It is 
important to note, though, that while the transition appears to be similar on the surface for 
these three participants, the way each of them made sense of the transitional experience 
differed. Therefore, we can infer that the learning that accompanied the transition was 
also different for each person (Merriam, 2005, p. 8). 

Implications. Our lives are shaped by the life events that occur within a particular 
sociocultural and historical context that we encounter as we live our daily lives and attend 
to our unique roles, responsibilities, and relationships (Merriam, 2005). These life events 
can be anticipated or unanticipated and have the potential to lead to transformational 
learning. For learning to become developmental or transformational, we must attend to 
the way we make meaning of our experiences; and as educators, we must attend to the 
ways in which the learners in our classes make meaning of their experiences. Being 
sensitive to the fact that many of our adult learners are in transition is an important first 
step. In addition, transitions present opportunities for promoting development, which can 
help educators to design course activities to promote that development (Kegan, 1994; 
Mezirow, 2000). 

In the case of this study, I was able to determine certain transitions the 

participants were experiencing through my role as the researcher. It is important to 

understand the role of transitions in adult learning and development, and I learned that 

the way the ESL for Educators course was designed did not provide appropriate support 

246 



for those transitions. This requires attention. The course and instructor need to find ways 
to learn about, acknowledge and support transitions in the adult learners' lives. 

The background questionnaire that each individual is asked to complete at the 
beginning of the semester is an important first step in that process. However, further 
adaptations need to be made if the instructors are going to be able to learn about the 
unique transitions of the adult learners, become sensitive to them, attend to them, and use 
them as sources of learning to promote development. Further suggestions for such 
modifications will be discussed later in this chapter. 

Ways of Knowing 

Determining adult learners' ways of making meaning out of their experiences can 
serve as a springboard to learning and development. Development is a qualitative change, 
or transformation, in a way of knowing (Kegan, 2000; Mezirow, 2000). Development 
"takes place in a social context of environmental prompts as people act on the world and 
it, it turn, acts on them. However, how adults experience this interaction is influenced by 
how they perceive and make sense of the events that make up that experience" (K. 
Taylor, et al., 2000, p. 11). 

A person's way of knowing matters in a learning context because learners 
construct knowledge in qualitatively different ways, which is dependent upon their way 
of knowing (Drago-Severson, 2004). Using data collected through a variety of activities, 
I was able to infer certain characteristics often associated with particular meaning-making 
systems (see table 5.5 for a brief summary of participants). 



247 



For example, Sofia and Patricia both exhibited features of a procedural way of 
knowing (Belenky, et al., 1986). However, even within the procedural way of knowing, 
there are multiple and unique aspects that can differ greatly from one person to the next. 
Both Sofia and Patricia revealed to me that they deeply cared about what they were trying 
to learn and do, and showed a sense of empathy for the people they were trying to help, 
aspects associated with connected procedural knowers (Belenky, et al., 1986). However, 
one major difference between the way that Sofia and Patricia seemed to make sense of 
their experiences was that Patricia appeared much more focused on the pragmatic, 
procedural aspect of learning. This was likely due to the fact that Patricia was teaching 
during the time of the study and Sofia was not, which has its own implications for course 
design that I will discuss in a later section of this chapter. 

A critical element of a person's way of knowing is who they take as sources of 
authority. On the path of development, people often begin by seeing authorities 
(individuals to whom they often turn for validation such as parents, employers, 
researchers, teachers, etc.) as holders of "truth." Knowledge is either right or wrong and 
the authorities determine what is right and what is wrong. Further along on the 
developmental path, people begin to realize that knowledge is uncertain and that the 
authorities do not hold all the answers. Finally, those operating on a more complex level 
of development become aware that all knowledge is relative to context. Understanding 
adult learners' sources of authority can help educators design appropriate supports and 
challenges for them. 

As an example, Jennifer and Kathy both demonstrated dualistic thinking at 

various points in the interviews. They expressed a belief in right or wrong and indicated 

248 



that they viewed the instructor as a source of authority. Their statements suggested a need 
to know what was expected of them and reflected an expectation that the instructor lead 
them on the "right" path in order to gain practical skills and knowledge. 

Taylor and her colleagues (2000) offer a possible reason why adult learners "hand 
over" authority to someone else, the instructor in this case. They suggest that the 
possibility exists that adults who are already overwhelmed with responsibility for work, 
family, and now learning, may be perfectly happy to turn over responsibility to someone 
else for a while. They likely want mutual respect, but maybe not mutual authority. Both 
Kathy and Jennifer exhibited signs of being overwhelmed in their personal lives and 
therefore, this explanation may be applicable to the two of them. 

While Kathy and Jennifer's thinking may have been similar at certain times, their 
reactions to the course activities and their experiences of the course were different. Kathy 
said that the course provided her with the practical skills and knowledge she needed and 
prepared her well to meet the needs of her linguistically diverse learners. However, 
Jennifer described being disappointed and discouraged by the course and did not feel as 
though she got the practical knowledge she sought. 

There are two implications of the differing reactions from Kathy and Jennifer. 
First, like Patricia, Kathy was teaching during the semester of the study and had a context 
to which she could apply what she was learning. Jennifer was not teaching and therefore 
did not have a context to which she could apply what she was learning. The results of the 
study highlight the importance of teaching context which deserves attention when 
considering course design. The other implication is that while both Kathy and Jennifer 

249 



exhibited features of dualism in their thinking, they were likely operating under different 
meaning-making systems overall. "Adults' different ways of knowing can help explain 
how it is that the same curriculum, classroom structures, activities, assignments, and/or 
teaching behaviors can leave some learners feeling stimulated and well supported while 
others feel abandoned or lost" (Drago-Severson, 2004, p. 160). This was certainly the 
case for Kathy and Jennifer. 

Cutting across gender lines, Steven exhibited characteristics most in common 
with a subjective knower (Belenky, et al., 1986). He was on a quest for self-discovery 
and loudly asserted himself in an effort to self -protect and self-define. He wanted to gain 
life experience in a hands-on way and trusted in personal experience more than in written 
words. 

Erik, on the other hand, appeared to orient more towards a self-authoring way of 
knowing. King and Baxter Magolda (2004, p. 303) define self-authorship as follows: 

Self-authorship is the capacity to internally define a coherent belief system and 
identity that coordinates engagement in mutual relations with the larger world. 
This internal foundation yields the capacity to actively listen to multiple 
perspectives, critically interpret those perspectives in light of relevant evidence 
and the internal foundation, and make judgments accordingly. 

Drago-Severson (Drago-Severson, 2004) posits that "an authority over one's own identity 
marks the attainment of a self-authored way of knowing, which can retain its integrity in 
the company of others." A person with a self-authoring way of knowing has the capacity 
to reflect on and consider the expectations of others as separate from his own. 

Erik appeared to be the author and authority of his own life. He held expectations 
of himself that he strove to attain. He was able to reflect on his experiences objectively, 

250 



empathize with others, and take on multiple perspectives simultaneously. Erik was 
concerned not only with how his actions would affect him personally, but the larger 
world around him as well. Erik consistently spoke of "giving back to society." 

Implications. The way the ESL for Educators course was designed may have been 
more appropriate for learners who have one way of knowing while inadvertently 
neglecting others (Drago-Severson, 2004). As an example, imparting knowledge to 
learners as facts to be internalized, similar to Freire's (1971) "banking" model, may feel 
frustrating to learners who have self- authoring ways of knowing; whereas it may feel 
satisfying and supportive to those who make sense of their experience with an 
instrumental way of knowing (Drago-Severson, 2004). However, the reverse is also true. 
Courses that are less structured, more constructivist in nature and do not fall into the 
"banking" model of education may appeal to self- authoring knowers while leaving the 
instrumental knowers feeling frustrated. 

One way to address the issue of course design as being geared more towards 
learners operating with particular ways of knowing, is for educators to be mindful of the 
unique ways of knowing with which each adult learner approaches the course (Drago- 
Severson, 2004). Changes to the ESL for Educators course must take place in order to 
gain insights into the adult learners' ways of knowing. Based on what I learned, I argue 
for the importance of trying to understand the unique ways the adult learners make 
meaning; and I agree with leading researchers in the field that providing the appropriate 
supports and challenges for each individual and his or her unique meaning-making 
system is crucial for development and transformational learning (Baxter-Magolda, 2001; 

Belenky, et al., 1986; Drago-Severson, 2004; Kegan, 2000; Kegan & Lahey, 2009; 

251 



Mezirow, 2000; K. Taylor, et al., 2000). Multiple perspectives on how to provide 
appropriate supports and challenges will be described in more detail later in this chapter. 

Experience, Reflection and Meaning-Making 

Three essential aspects of adult learning theory are experience, reflection and 
meaning-making. As Dewey (1938) observed, all genuine learning comes through 
experience, but not all experience leads to learning. "For experience to lead to shifts of 
perception associated with meaningful learning and development, it is necessary also to 
include reflection and critical reflection" (K. Taylor, et al., 2000, p. 27). Critically 
reflecting on an experience can lead to meaning-making, which is to make sense of that 
experience (Mezirow, 1990). 

Experience, reflection and meaning-making were all critical elements in 
describing the unique experiences of the six adult learners who participated in this study. 
They each entered the course with a variety of experiences, and they reacted to the course 
activities differently, based on how they experienced them and made sense of them. 
Reflection was built into the course design by requiring that the learners reflect on each 
of each of the three field assignments and on their experiences overall through journal 
entries and a final reflection paper. In addition, participation in the study for six of the 
nine adult learners enrolled in the course provided additional opportunities for reflection. 
Through the questionnaires, surveys, written reflections, and interviews, I was able to 
construct hypotheses about how they made meaning of their experiences. 

Kegan 's subject-object continuum. One way to better understand those meaning- 
making systems is through the lens of the subject-object continuum (Kegan, 1982, 1994). 

252 



If a person is subject to an experience, she is fully in the experience, living it, and feeling 
the emotion of it. When a person is able to move to the object position, she can examine 
it, reflect on it and make sense of the experience for her life. Using Kegan's lens, I 
carefully observed what the participants said about their experiences and could infer 
whether a person was subject or object to particular experiences. 

For example, I found that Sofia had difficulty making the shift from subject to 
object when she talked about feeling overwhelmed about teaching and everything going 
on in her life. She was subject to the experience of being a single mom of a toddler who 
was working, going to school and trying to figure out who she was and what her place 
was in this world all at the same time. She could not reflect on it without becoming 
emotional. 

Jennifer also showed signs of being subject to the experience of writing the 
research paper. Her emotions of the experience seemed to overshadow her reactions 
towards other course activities. She was unable to separate herself from that experience 
and gain perspective on it. It was as though that experience had hold of her, a sign of 
being subject to it. 

Several other participants, on the other hand, appeared much more able to 
objectively reflect on their experiences, examine them and talk about them calmly. 
Patricia and Erik, for example, appeared to have full control of their emotions and could 
reflect on emotional experiences without experiencing the emotion. As an example, both 
Patricia and Erik described feeling sad without showing sadness. This suggested to me 
that they were object to move the experiences of sadness to the object position. They 

253 



were not feeling the emotion of it; they were in full control of those emotions, even when 
they discussed them. 

Implications. Being aware of how an adult learner orients to an experience can aid 
an educator in providing the appropriate supports and challenges that foster learning and 
development. For example, specific guidelines and examples would support learners, 
such as Jennifer and Erik, in the process of writing the research paper so it would not be 
such an overwhelming and intimidating experience. "High expectations are appropriately 
challenging when the environment also provides adequate guidance toward meeting those 
expectations" (K. Taylor, et al., 2000, p. 333). The adequate guidance may have been 
lacking in this case. Additional supports could have included helping her choose an 
appropriate topic and helping her break the paper up in to smaller, more manageable 
chunks by setting up step-by- step instructions with specific due dates along the way. 

These additional supports would be helpful for all of the adult learners, but more 

important for Jennifer, and adult learners like her, who found the activity of writing the 

research paper to be overwhelming and intimidating. To provide additional supports, 

such as helping Jennifer with the research paper, the instructor would need to make 

herself aware of Jennifer's way of knowing and the ways in which she made sense of that 

experience. For that to be possible, data would be required. I know that while she shared 

her struggles and frustrations with me as the researcher, she did not share those same 

frustrations with her instructor. The instructor did not inquire about it either. "Learning is 

a partnership between learners and educators" (King & Baxter-Magolda, 2004, p. 305) 

and therefore, some of the responsibility lies with the educator and the way she designs 

the course and some of the responsibility lies with the learner and the way she helps the 

254 



instructor learn about her way of knowing. The acknowledgement of that partnership by 
both members is important in promoting development in learning contexts. 

Appropriate Supports and Challenges that Promote Development 

Teaching with developmental intentions can foster transformational learning. 
However, using a developmental approach to course design and instruction can be 
unpredictable (K. Taylor, et al., 2000). Brookfield (1989, p. 240) expanded on this notion 
of unpredictability. 

When we begin to ask people to identify assumptions underlying their habitual 
ways of thinking and learning, we do not know exactly how they are going to 
respond. When we ask them to consider alternatives, we do not know which of 
these will be considered seriously and which will be rejected out of hand. When 
people are presented with counter-examples that contradict their commonly held 
assumptions. . .we do not know exactly what will transpire. . .risk, surprise, and 
spontaneity are important and unavoidable. 

Because of this unpredictability of teaching with developmental intentions, it is 
important to know who the learners are and where they are with respect to their learning 
and their life. This will help educators better provide the two factors essential to 
developmental growth: support and challenge (Baxter-Magolda, 2001; Belenky, et al., 
1986; Drago-Severson, 2004; Kegan & Lahey, 2009; K. Taylor, et al, 2000). 

Taylor and her colleagues (2000, p. 326) offer broad definitions of support and 
challenge. 



Support, in its broadest sense, is confirmation of the learner and his or her current 
efforts. It includes, for example, positive feedback of all kinds, clear and explicit 
communications and directions, affirmation of what the learner already knows, 
and response to the learner's perceived needs. Challenge, in its broadest sense, is 
encouragement to stretch beyond what is currently familiar and comfortable in 
order to achieve some new level of competence. It focuses on what remains to be 
done, rather than what is already accomplished. It may involve ambiguities, with 

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the intention that the learner take a more active role in decision making. Educators 
may also, after appropriate consideration, challenge adults by not responding to 
certain of their expressed desires. 

By using a developmental approach to education, educators must consider that the 
potential for growth may be matched by a potential for disorientation (K. Taylor, et al., 
2000). Support, while essential, is not enough by itself. Challenge must be present as 
well. Learners need to be "pushed, prodded, and encouraged past the point that feels 
comfortable and safe" (K. Taylor, et al., 2000, p. 333). The most effective way to support 
development, though, is the combination of and the right balance between support and 
challenge. 

The ESL for Educators course provided several opportunities for the adult 
learners to challenge themselves. For example, asking students to seek out a cultural 
activity or event conducted in an unfamiliar language certainly pushed many learners 
outside of their comfort zones, which was one of the purposes of the assignment. 
However, there may not have been enough support in place to accompany the challenge. 
The TCs were given the opportunity to reflect on the experience, which is a key element 
in development, but because it was an online environment, they never had the 
opportunity to share those experiences through dialogue with a group of colleagues, 
which may have held the potential for further learning and growth. 

The adult learners were essentially alone with that experience. Given the fact that 
developmental challenges such as these can shake an individual's sense of self (K. 
Taylor, et al., 2000), providing additional sources of support would be helpful. We cannot 
underestimate the magnitude of the extent of this challenge and of the transformation that 



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learners undergo in experiencing new ways of looking at the world around them, and of 
experiencing a new sense of self. 

Baxter Magolda and promoting self -authorship. To address the magnitude of such 
experiences, several researchers offer suggestions for how to provide supports and 
challenges that foster development and the potential for transformative learning. For 
example, Baxter Magolda (2001) suggests three principles for educational practice. First, 
she stresses the importance of validating the learners ' capacity to know. Second, she 
advocates for situating learning in the learners ' experience. Third, she highlights the 
need to define learning as mutually constructing meaning. 

These three principles stem from the longitudinal work Baxter Magolda (2001) 
did with young adults in their 20's and the questions they ask of themselves: How do I 
know? Who am I? What kinds of relationships do I want with others? After identifying 
the driving questions of the 20 's, she aligned them with the three dimensions of 
development: epistemological, intrapersonal and interpersonal. Based on those three 
dimensions, Baxter Magolda argues that there are three core assumptions that promote 
self-authorship, which are: 1) knowledge is complex and socially constructed 
(epistemological development); 2) self is central to knowledge construction 
(intrapersonal development); and 3) authority and expertise are shared in mutual 
construction of knowledge among peers (interpersonal development). 

Several of the participants in the study were asking themselves questions similar 
to the ones posed by Baxter Magolda (2001). Sofia and Steven, who were in their 
twenties, made statements that indicated they were searching for answers about who they 

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were, how they knew, and what kinds of relationships they wanted with others. Jennifer 
was asking similar questions, as was Erik to a certain degree, but they were not in their 
twenties. Jennifer was in her early 50's and Erik in his late 30's. 

Based on the results of the study, I found Baxter Magolda's (2001) framework 
helpful in understanding not only the adult learners in their 20 's, but the adult learners at 
any age who happened to be undergoing a certain transition in their life. Many adult 
learners enrolled in education programs are in transition (Aslanian & Brickell, 1980; 
Merriam, 2005); which as mentioned, was the case for many of the adult learners who 
participated in this study. Therefore, it is helpful to know the kinds of questions they may 
be asking themselves, which along with the three core assumptions and principles that 
promote development, hold implications for course design. 

Holding environments as contexts for growth. Kegan (1982, 1994) describes the 
importance of a holding environment as a context for growth and development, which is 
necessary for transformational learning to occur. In essence, a holding environment is a 
place where learners who are making sense of their experiences are held safe while they 
test their assumptions about the world. Kegan argues that we must create: 

a holding environment that provides both welcoming acknowledgement to exactly 
who the person is right now as he or she is, and fosters the person's psychological 
evolution. As such, a holding environment is tricky, a transitional culture, an 
evolutionary bridge, a context for crossing over (Kegan, 1994, p. 43). 

Drago-Severson (2004) describes the three functions that good holding 

environments serve, according to Kegan. First, a good holding environment must "hold 

well" (Drago-Severson, 2004, p. 35). This means that the environment acknowledges 

who the person is and how the person is currently making meaning and does not urgently 

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anticipate change. The holding environment is not meant to confine, but rather to support 
a person's meaning-making process. Second, a good holding environment needs to "let 
go" when a person is ready. This allows a person to move beyond his existing 
understandings to more complex ways of knowing; hence promoting growth. Third, a 
good holding environment "sticks around" while the person is in the process of growth. It 
provides continuity, stability, and availability to that person. 

The third feature of a good holding environment, which is to "stick around," can 
be difficult, especially in a one-semester course like ESL for Educators. However, the 
other two features can be included, which align with the essential elements of promoting 
growth and development: support and challenge. 

Supports and challenges for women. Belenky et al. (1986) in their study of 135 
women found that women have unique ways of knowing. They acknowledge, however, 
that certain aspects of the ways of knowing they present cut across gender lines. In their 
research and in listening to women's voices, Belenky and her colleagues observed ways 
to help women in their growth and development. They argue that in order to help women 
develop their own authentic voices, educators should "emphasize connection over 
separation, understanding and acceptance over assessment, and collaboration over 
debate" (Belenky, et al., 1986, p. 229). They also suggest that educators respect the 
knowledge that emerges from the women's firsthand experience and encourage learners 
to evolve their own patterns of work based on the problems they are working on. In 
addition, Belenky et al. highlight the importance of allowing time for this development to 
occur. Taylor and her colleagues (2000) agree. "Significant change takes time, far more 

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time than brief training courses or individual class sessions can offer and perhaps even 
more than an entire program of courses or workshops" (p. 334). 

Promoting Development through Online Discussions 

Discussion and dialogue appear to be important facilitators of adult learning and 
development. However, facilitating classroom discussions to promote development is 
challenging. "When in our roles as teachers and trainers, if we automatically respond to 
each comment or question, we may without realizing it subtly reinforce the notion that 
we are the source of information and at the center of all interaction" (K. Taylor, et al., 
2000). This challenge is also present when facilitating discussion in online settings: 
finding the right balance between being present and showing the learners that you are 
paying attention to what they are saying; yet not monopolizing the conversation or giving 
off the impression that you are the sole source of knowledge. 

Brookfield (1989, p. 237) described why he opts not to circulate among small 
groups of learners engaged in discussion in his classroom. He found that his presence 
interrupted the flow of dialogue by either intimidating the learners, who would suddenly 
fall silent as he approached the group, or by encouraging bursts of anxious animation 
from those who were striving to be seen as good students. While he avoided interrupting 
group discussions, he made a point to actively offer himself as a resource to be called 
upon as needed. 

This "hanging back," but being available when needed, can be challenging for 
online instructors. The online instructor may not be called on when needed if the learners 
are afraid or unwilling to explicitly ask for guidance or assistance in the online 

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environment. However, creating smaller groups for online discussion may provide a more 
comfortable environment for the learners to explore ideas, share experiences and 
challenge assumptions. 

For some learners, discussion is a major, if not the major source of learning (K. 
Taylor, et al., 2000, p. 303). In academic settings, learners can be rich sources of learning 
for one another by bringing multiple perspectives to the conversations and a variety of 
examples that go beyond the texts or individual instructors. Unfortunately, many of the 
participants in the study indicated that they did not benefit much from the online 
discussions as they were set up in the ESL for Educators course. One reason for that was 
the number of posts they were expected to view and respond to, which became 
overwhelming for many, the instructor included. Smaller groups may address this issue 
for the learners by allowing them to go more in-depth with fewer people. 

Another reason they may have felt the discussions were not beneficial to their 

learning was based on the structure of the discussions. They only lasted one week each. 

Several participants indicated that one week was not enough time to thoroughly explore a 

topic. Therefore, they found themselves scrambling to read and post and then it was time 

to move on to the next topic. Quality discussions take time. They "need time to develop 

momentum, to engage learners at deeper levels, and then to come to some resolution" (K. 

Taylor, et al., 2000, p. 302). A possible way to address this in the online setting is to 

expand the threaded discussions to span across two or more weeks. This would allow 

more time to explore a topic in greater detail and hopefully provide additional 

opportunities for growth and learning. Another possibility is to leave the discussions open 

and encourage TCs to return to them throughout the semester. 

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Changing the time span will only be useful, though, if the topics themselves lend 
themselves to rich exploration and discussion. It takes considerable skill and sensitivity to 
encourage learners to openly examine their values and beliefs (K. Taylor, et al., 2000); 
possibly even more so in an online environment when all responses are written and may 
appear "final." Several participants indicated that the topics did not facilitate their 
learning or challenge their thinking. Brookfield (1989) describes the challenge of posing 
questions at the right level of difficulty. If they are too easy, learners will not fully 
engage. If they are too hard, learners may become discouraged. In addition, if the 
questions are too global and abstract, we run the risk of learners giving formulaic or 
conventional responses, which was one complaint of the online learners in this study. 
Several of them described the responses to discussion questions as "repetitive" and/or 
"superficial," which may imply that the questions were not at the right level of difficulty 
to encourage learners to explore the topic and engage in the discussion. 

Another factor in the success of any discussion, online included, is the learners' 
awareness and understanding of how to appropriately engage in the conversations. For 
example, "learners need to know in advance the criteria for a quality discussion so they 
can assess how well they are accomplishing the goal" (K. Taylor, et al., 2000, p. 303). 
This is particularly true in the online environment; especially if it is the learner's first 
experience in an online learning context. 

The appropriate guidance for weekly threaded discussions may have been one 

aspect of the ESL for Educators course during the semester of the study that was lacking. 

They received five points for each weekly discussion. To earn those five points, they 

were required to respond to the question prompt and reply to at least two of their 

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classmates during the week. There were no additional criteria set for what was expected 
of them as contributing members to the conversation; nor was there any indication of 
what a quality post might look like. Eva increased the amount of points to ten and 
provided a more detailed rubric with clear expectations for accomplishing the goal of a 
quality discussion. 

A final aspect of the online discussions that is important to address, is that of 
online instructor participation and feedback. As indicated, Eva struggled at times to find 
the appropriate balance between responding too often and not often enough. The online 
learners admitted that if she posted after the week of the discussion, they did not go back 
and read her comments calling into question whether or not her feedback was beneficial 
to their learning. The data results showed that the instructor's posts, especially those that 
were posted after the week of the discussion, were not being viewed by all of the 
students. 

These results offer implications for the structure of the online discussions as well 

as the role of the instructor in providing feedback. First, if the discussions last two weeks, 

instead of one, as discussed earlier, that may allow for more processing time for both the 

learners and the instructor. Participation and feedback on the part of the instructor would 

more likely fall within the time frame dedicated to that particular discussion. In addition, 

finding alternate ways to provide feedback may help reach more of the learners. For 

example, the instructor may choose to create a summary of important points from the 

discussions and post it in several places: the threaded discussion, a course announcement, 

and an email. This is one of the changes that Eva implemented to the course the semester 

following the study. 

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Implications for Practice 
The results of this study highlight the need for the structure of the course and the 
programs in which it resides to be critically examined. Given the pressing need for 
teachers to work effectively with English language learners, this study calls into question 
the reasonableness of expecting teachers to gain the necessary knowledge, skills and 
techniques in a single semester online course. The issues raised by the study provide a 
framework, however, for examining the professional preparation of teachers who work 
with ELLs, and offer insights into the revision of activities and practices that may 
positively impact the teacher candidates' understandings of the education of ELLs, and 
suggest ways to create environments more conducive to transformative learning 
experiences. 

Implications for Course Design 

And in-depth study of this nature revealed both the strengths and weaknesses of 
the ESL for Educators course. As teacher educators our job is to prepare our future 
teachers to work with their diverse learners. Helping them acquire the knowledge and 
skills necessary is an important aspect of that preparation. However, this study 
underscores the importance of going beyond informational learning to include 
opportunities for adult learners to transform their frames of reference to a deeper, more 
reflective understanding of themselves and the students with whom they will work. 

Analysis of course syllabus. One of the first aspects of the course in need of 

revision is the syllabus (see appendix I for complete syllabus). The course goals and 

objectives are all geared towards informational knowledge. According to the course 

instructors and the program coordinator, the unwritten goals for the teacher candidates 

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enrolled in the course appear to go deeper than simply knowing the theories associated 
with language acquisition, lesson adaptations and assessment of ELLs. As Eva 
mentioned, from her perspective two main goals of the course were facilitating a sense of 
efficacy and empathy for ELLs. Empathy and other developmental goals are not 
represented on the course syllabus. There are specific standards as outlined by the state 
that must be included. However, instructors need to re- word, revise, or add goals and 
objectives that have a more developmental focus. If in fact that is to be a goal and focus 
of the adults' learning, it needs to be explicitly stated on the syllabus and course activities 
designed appropriately to meet those goals. 

Informational learning through readings. Each of the six participants reported a 
gain in informational knowledge of ELL issues and topics. Some of the readings 
appeared to contribute to that knowledge base, but most commonly cited was the text on 
sheltered content instruction (Echevarria & Graves, 2010). Few readings appeared to do 
much in the way of challenging the teacher candidates' thinking about ELLs and some 
participants indicated that they could not remember the readings or they could not keep 
them straight from other courses. 

A critical analysis and review of the readings is in order. Based on the 

participants' reactions to course activities, those that invoked emotion had a tendency to 

lead to greater shifts in thinking and perspective. Therefore, I would suggest looking for 

materials that have the ability to impact emotions, increasing what Richard-Amato (2010) 

refers to as the "affective base" in teacher education. For example, incorporating books, 

articles or videos that tell a story may result in a greater feeling of connection and instill a 

greater sense of empathy for ELLs. In addition, due to the perceived lack of a community 

265 



in the online environment, using materials that create feelings of human emotion and 
connection may be more effective in challenging the learners' thinking as well as provide 
additional opportunities for learning and development. 

Importance of context. Having a context to which the TCs could apply the new 
knowledge and skills acquired appeared to be an influential factor in the way the 
participants experienced the course. Kathy and Patricia were the only two teaching 
during the semester of the study and they found the course beneficial in helping them 
work with their ELLs. Research shows that adults learn best when the content they are 
learning is of clear and current importance to them (Knowles, 1980; Knowles, et al., 
1998). Kathy and Patricia had a current and relevant context to which they could apply 
what they were learning in the ESL for Educators course. 

Jennifer, on the other hand, struggled to see the relevance of what she was 
learning and therefore, reported that she did not get much out of the course. She did not 
see the relevance partly because she did not have a context to which she could apply the 
knowledge and skills. And in fact, she admitted that she did not complete some of the 
readings and activities because she did not see a need to do so at that point in time since 
she did not have her own classroom. 

One implication here is that since context appears to be an important factor in the 
learning of the adults enrolled in the course, it would be helpful to find a way to provide a 
context for those who are not currently teaching. It is possible that the learners could tutor 
ELLs or could find a classroom in which they could assist the teacher working with 
ELLs. To account for varying schedules, evening classes taught to adults could be an 

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option as well. Also, the course could possibly find local English learners in the area and 
provide a free English class taught by the TCs. This could be beneficial to both the TCs 
and the ELLs. Exploring the possibilities of incorporating a context could help bridge that 
gap and provide an opportunity for more adult learners to experience that clear and 
current importance, which would likely enhance their learning. 

Differentiation. Differentiation is a buzz word in K-12 education right now. The 
term is generally used to refer to the altering of or modification of course activities to 
better meet the needs of diverse learners. However, it is rarely used in contexts of higher 
education. In a personal communication, S. Stein said to Drago-Severson, "learning 
activities need to be structured that can effectively address the multiple 
needs/expectations of adults at multiple developmental as well as skill levels to most 
effectively reach and teach all students" (Drago-Severson, 2004, p. 160). 

The ESL for Educators course incorporated several activities that by nature were 

differentiated: journals, reflections and discussions. However, one thing I learned from 

the study was the need to differentiate course activities. A contradiction exists between 

the course content, which encourages the teacher candidates to differentiate, and the 

conduct of the course, which does not differentiate. For example, the cultural field 

experience is designed for adult learners who have not had much exposure to diverse 

cultures or languages, or who may not have traveled outside of the state or the country. 

However, for Erik, who spent more than a quarter of his life outside of the U.S. and lived 

that experience already, the cultural field assignment appeared superficial and did not 

challenge him to think differently about ELLs or the education of ELLs. So for learners 

who, like Erik, have extensive experience abroad, an alternate assignment would likely 

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be better at promoting learning and development, and potentially lead to more 
opportunities for transformational learning. 

Another example of an aspect of the ESL for Educators course that may benefit 
from differentiation would be the final research paper. For example, Jennifer in particular 
struggled with all aspects of the research paper. She did not see the relevance or the 
purpose in doing it and struggled with the format. Others, such as Erik, indicated that 
they understood the importance and purpose of the research paper, but felt that structure 
could have been improved. Patricia, though, found the experience of writing the research 
paper one of the most valuable in the course for her. This highlights the fact that each 
person experiences the same activity in qualitatively different ways, likely influenced by 
their individual ways of knowing. 

One way to address that issue is to provide options. For example, the research 
paper could remain an option for a final project for those who learn best in that way. For 
others, though, who may learn better in different ways, a hands-on, practical application 
project may be added as an additional option. And for those who prefer more personal 
contact and connections, maybe incorporating interviews or devising a type of action plan 
might be helpful. The possibilities are numerous, but the point remains the same: to 
support learning and development, we need to begin with the learner's experience and be 
mindful of their unique ways of knowing to provide appropriate supports and challenges 
to take the learners where they are and help them get to where they can be. 

Creating a community of connection. Based on the interview data, it was clear 
that the majority of the reactions were negative. Many of the TCs indicated that they 

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would have learned more in a face-to-face classroom. My interpretation is that they did 
not feel part of a community of learners or practice (Wenger, 1998), which Drago- 
Severson (2004) refers to as a community of connection. The adult learners appeared to 
feel somewhat alone in their experiences and craved more personal human contact and 
connection. The big question is, then, how can one create a community of connection in 
an online learning environment? 

Drago-Severson (2004) claims there are ways to build a community of connection 
that includes elements of a cohort design without having structured, formal cohorts. 
However, the design features of a cohort design need to be woven into class and program 
structures, such as sharing a common purpose and meeting for longer periods of time. I 
will discuss this further when I talk about implications for program design later in this 
chapter. What can be done in the course itself, though, is provide opportunities for the 
learners to talk with each other, learn from each other, and reflect on each other's 
experiences. 

Opportunities exist for the TCs enrolled in the course to converse in the weekly 
online discussions. However, the way it was set up was not working. Face-to-face 
meetings cannot be required in fully online courses, per the rules and regulations of the 
university, but the instructor can arrange for optional face-to-face meetings. That way, 
those who feel they need that personal connection could have the opportunity to meet and 
talk with their classmates. For example, several participants explained that they rely on 
people's faces. This would provide an opportunity for them to see the faces of those with 
whom they are conversing online. 

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Another option for providing opportunities for learners to talk with each other is 
through phone conversations or Skype. Speaking on the phone would not provide a face, 
but would provide a voice, a sense of a personality, and more of a personal connection. 
Skype could provide all of the above plus a face. Phone calls or Skype calls could come 
in a variety of forms. First, the instructor could call her students at the beginning of the 
semester to introduce herself and welcome them to the course and ask if they have any 
questions. This may break the ice and bridge that distance that online learners have a 
tendency to feel from their instructor and classmates. Speaking on the phone or computer 
via Skype with their instructor may lead them to feel more comfortable asking for help 
and guidance along the way, which would help the instructor provide the appropriate 
supports and challenges to foster their learning and development. 

Another form that calls can take is from student to student. Maybe the instructor 
could set up a sort of phone/Skype tree where the TCs have to talk to two of their 
classmates and conduct a mini-interview to get to know them. As is often done in face-to- 
face classrooms to break the ice, they could report something interesting they learned 
about their classmate during the interview. The difference would be that the reporting 
would come in the form of an online threaded discussion. 

Other options to help promote a community of connection through personal 

contact and communication could come through the use of technology. For example, 

incorporating voice into their introductory Power Point presentations would be an 

additional way students could connect. Instead of just viewing words on the page and 

looking at a few pictures, the vocal component could provide an additional dimension 

and allow learners a glimpse into each other's personality. 

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Finding additional ways to incorporate voice into online discussions could also be 
helpful for those who prefer to speak rather than write their thoughts. This would also add 
an additional dimension of vocal intonation and intention, which is often lost in the 
online environment. Nonverbal communication would still be missing unless a video 
component was included, but this would be a step in the direction of creating that 
community of connection. 

The potential for transformative learning. Starting with the learners' experience 
and providing opportunities for critical reflection and meaning-making can lead to 
growth and development. When educators create learning contexts that heighten learners' 
awareness of their assumptions, or "taken-f or- granted beliefs," and provide spaces, or 
holding environments, in which adults can engage in reflection and discussion of those 
assumptions, they are providing opportunities for transformational learning to occur. 

To foster real change and development, educators must take a developmental 
stance and "send the message that they expect adults can grow" (Kegan & Lahey, 2009). 
As a result of the course design and experience, several of the participants were able to 
examine their own assumptions and some of them were able to reflect on them and even 
change them. For example, Erik came to the realization through his participation in the 
course that his experience teaching ESL in Japan did not directly transfer to teaching 
ELLs in a content- area classroom in the U.S. The classroom visit he conducted as part of 
the third field experience and his reflections on that experience along with his prior 
experiences led to that shift in thinking. 



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Another example was when Patricia described feeling sad when she reflected on 
how she approached ELLs in her previous classes. She had assumed certain things about 
those students and was able to challenge those assumptions through her course 
experiences and reflections. She changed the way she made sense of those experiences, a 
sign of a transformational shift in thinking. In addition, through our conversations, she 
was able to reflect on her assumptions about the Hispanic males with whom she came in 
contact. She discovered that she may have been assuming they were a particular way 
given her history with her Hispanic father, who left the family when Patricia was in ninth 
grade, and who Patricia viewed as a "typical Hispanic male." 

Yet another example was when Kathy was able to challenge her previously-held 
assumption that those who spoke fluent English were in fact fluent in all aspects of 
English. Based on what she learned in the ESL for Educators course, she incorporated a 
journaling component to her middle school math class and discovered that many of her 
students, even though she had not realized it, were ELLs. For the majority of the 
semester, Kathy believed she had only one ELL in her class and she focused on helping 
him, but it turned out she had many more and realized that the strategies she learned 
about and implemented were helping many of her students' growth and achievement. 

The three field assignments and the reflections of those assignments appeared to 
be the greatest contributors to the potential for transformational learning overall. 
However, each person's reactions to the course activities were unique, as discussed in the 
individual portraits in chapter 5. 



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In conclusion, the way the online ESL for Educators course was designed was not 
an ideal context for transformational learning, but transformational shifts in thinking did 
occur in several participants as a result of their course participation. Incorporating the 
revisions suggested may lead to a greater potential for the adult learners to have a 
transformative experience. It will be difficult to determine which modifications result in 
greater learning and development, though, because a new group of learners in a new 
semester will bring with them their own unique sociocultural histories, experiences, ways 
of knowing, and life circumstances, which will all influence whether or not the potential 
will exist for transformative learning for them. 

Implemented Changes to Course Design and Next Steps 

Shortly after the conclusion of the study, Eva began instructing the ESL for 
Educators course again with a new group of TCs. She talked to me about some of the 
changes she implemented based on some of the results from this study. First, Eva 
reported that she noticed a pattern of frequently asked questions from the TCs. For 
example, she often heard questions such as, "Why do I need to take this class if I don't 
plan on being an ESL teacher?" To address questions such as those, Eva started a class 
wiki with frequently asked questions and her responses to them. She also used the wiki as 
a place to add resources that might be helpful to them in their content areas. Eva strove to 
highlight the importance of learning how to effectively work with ELLs. 

Based on the mostly negative reactions to the weekly discussions, Eva altered 

some of the discussion topics in an attempt to foster more in-depth responses and 

conversations. She also began posting feedback within the weekly discussions, as she did 

during the semester of the study, but incorporated as well an announcement on the 

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Blackboard course shell, which was also sent as an email to the TCs. Based on the fact 
that her posts were not being viewed as often as she would have liked, she found different 
ways to communicate with the TCs in an effort to challenge their thinking and help to 
better prepare them to work with ELLs. 

Based on the fact that several of the study participants suggested that they would 
have appreciated a more practical application activity, Eva removed the formal research 
paper and replaced it with a more hands-on, practical final project. The write-up for the 
new project read on the syllabus, 

Using the framework from Chapter 8 (Echevarria & Graves, 2010), consider the 
needs of one of the learners profiled in this chapter. (Or, you may select an ELL 
or ELLs you know.) Select a lesson plan from a curriculum guide or a teacher- 
made plan. Describe how you would adapt the plan and implement the lesson. 
Justify and support your rationale for the decisions you would make referring to 
what you have learned in this class. Similar to Echevarria & Graves' suggestion to 
work collaboratively at your schools, partners and/or teams are encouraged to 
work together for this project. Specific guidelines will be posted on Blackboard. 

Due to the generally positive response to the field assignments, Eva left those the 
same. She also arranged to video-record an updated ESL Directors' panel discussion to 
the course shell on Blackboard. 

Those were the major changes that Eva made to the course based on the results of 
this study. The process of action research will continue and additional changes may be 
implemented down the road based on what she learns. 

Implications for Program Design 

This study indicates that a critical analysis of the program of which ESL for 
Educators is a part would be beneficial to the creation and development of experiences 



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conducive to transformative shifts in thinking. The online learning environment in 
particular can appear decontextualized and therefore, finding ways to create a community 
of connection for those enrolled in the program may be beneficial to the adults' learning 
and development. In addition, finding ways for the teacher candidates to collaborate may 
also unlock the potential for them to acquire additional skills and knowledge to better 
meet the needs of their English language learners. This section describes suggestions for 
how to start that process of analysis and revision. 

Creating a community of connection. Creating a community of connection is 
important in supporting adult learners in academic, emotional and cognitive ways 
(Drago-Severson, 2004). Online teacher education programs, such as the ALP program in 
which the adult learners in the study were enrolled, need to find ways to establish 
communities of connection. Due to university policies, online courses cannot require 
face-to-face meetings. Therefore, one possibility is to change the format of the online 
courses to a hybrid format, where the majority of the interactions take place online, but 
with face-to-face meetings schedule regularly throughout the semester (once a week, 
once every other week, etc.). That way, there is the convenience of the online 
environment with the human contact and connection of face-to-face interactions. 

Developmental focus throughout. Implementing a developmental focus in the ESL 
for Educators course is essential. However, teaching with developmental intentions in 
one course is not enough. Changes in a person's development or way of knowing take 
time, longer than one semester in most cases. For the teacher education program to 
facilitate transformative learning experiences, each of the courses need to focus on 

275 



developing adult learners and providing them opportunities to reflect and explore who 
they are and who they want to become. (See Clarke (2007) for example). 

One suggestion is to invite learners to write their autobiographies as a way to 
support and promote development (Drago-Severson, 2004). This should be incorporated 
into the very first course the TCs take as part of their curriculum and then strewn 
throughout each of the courses. Externalizing their experiences by writing about them 
provides an opportunity for the adult learners to take a step back and reflect on their 
experiences and on their assumptions. If this autobiography format is incorporated 
throughout the course sequence in the program, adult learners will be able to continue 
their journey of reflection and revise their autobiographies accordingly. 

Development of teacher educators. The majority of the instructors of the courses 
in the teacher education program at this particular university are adjunct instructors, 
meaning they are not full time employees of the university. This can lead to a disjointed 
program design. Not only do the TCs enrolled in the online courses not know each other, 
but often the online instructors do not know each other either. The lack of connection and 
communication may cause some instructors to feel isolated. Eva was an exception since 
she was a full time instructor at the university during the semester of the study. 

Due to the high percentage of adjunct instructors and frequency of instructor turn- 
over, there is room for improvement of continuity and consistency. Courses often 
undergo minimal revision from one semester to the next. I would recommend that the 
teacher education program not only work on creating a community of connection among 
the teacher candidates, but of the teacher educators as well. 

276 



One way to do so would be to incorporate periodic meetings, even as infrequently 
as once a semester. That way, the instructors could get to know each other and provide 
opportunities to collaborate on course and program design. Also, providing training on 
how to design courses with a developmental focus would be helpful if that is one of the 
goals of the program. It would be important to make teacher educators aware that they 
cannot "develop" their students, but can provide opportunities for them to grow, learn 
and develop on their own (K. Taylor, et al., 2000). And since development grows out of 
ongoing interaction among people, creating contexts in which dialogue and discussion are 
an integral part of the curriculum would be helpful for both teacher candidates and 
teacher educators. 

A shared journey. As adult educators we are also adult learners and we need to 
recognize that (K. Taylor, et al., 2000). Engaging in critical self-reflection about our own 
existing assumptions, values and perspectives can prompt and promote our own 
development. This is a partnership between teacher educators and teacher candidates, all 
of whom are developing adult learners (Baxter-Magolda & King, 2004). It is a shared 
journey. "As we come into the lives of adult learners, our best and greatest influence may 
be our willingness to travel with them on that journey" (K. Taylor, et al., 2000, p. 335). In 
the words of Kegan and Lahey (2009, p. 323), "no matter how old you are, the story of 
your own development - and the stories of those around you - can continue to unfold." 



277 



Limitations and Areas for Future Research 
This study had limitations. The small sample size permitted in-depth analysis of 
the six participants and allowed for richer interpretations of the data. A similar study 
conducted with a greater number of participants would be beneficial. 

Another limitation of the study was its short duration. The study focused on a 
single university class that took place during a single semester. In sixteen weeks I was 
able to infer characteristics of certain meaning-making systems, but one semester was not 
long enough to find evidence of changes in the way the participants constructed the 
meaning of their experiences. A longitudinal study would address that limitation. For 
example, following a particular cohort of TCs throughout the duration of their licensure 
program would provide more opportunities to observe changes in their ways of knowing. 

A third limitation of the study was that I was unable to observe the teacher 
candidates in practice. Even though only two of the six focal participants were teaching 
during the semester of the study, observing their practice and the ways in which they 
responded to and educated their ELLs would have provided additional insights into the 
ability of the ESL for Educators course to meet its goal of making a positive impact on 
ELLs. Future studies that involve observation of practice and the impact on student 
learning are necessary to make that connection between teacher learning and practice. 

A final limitation of the study was that some of the TCs viewed me to a certain 
degree as another instructor. They were each aware that I had taught the course in the 
past and that I was connected to it in some way. Due to my positionality, even though I 
did everything I could to assure them that I was in no way responsible for evaluating 

278 



them, some of them may have been reluctant to share their true feelings or reactions to 
the course with me. My knowledge of and experience with the ESL for Educators course 
may have altered the results of the study as well as my interpretation of the results. 
Conducting a similar study in a different course or university, or having someone else 
who is less familiar with the course research similar questions posed in this study, may 
address some of those biases. 

I plan to keep in touch with the six adult learners who participated in this study if 
they are willing to keep in touch with me. I would like to conduct my own longitudinal 
study to see if I can find evidence of changes in their ways of thinking and knowing and 
to see if the ESL for Educators course has an impact on their teaching. Additional time 
with them will hopefully add to my understanding of who they are, how they know, and 
the types of supports and challenges that will assist them on their path of growth, learning 
and development. 

Final Thoughts 
An important result of this study not reported elsewhere is the growth, learning 
and development that happened in me as a result of my engagement in this study as the 
researcher. In an attempt to understand the participants, I began to examine myself and 
my own ways of making meaning out of my experiences. I have asked myself some 
difficult questions about my own assumptions and ability to reflect on my experiences 
and make sense of them. Throughout my seven years of participation in this Ph.D. 
program I have observed shifts in my ways of knowing, which I did not realize existed 
until I began writing this dissertation. 

279 



I vividly remember that I began this process seven years ago with an external 
sense of authority. I actually thought someone had made a mistake by admitting me into 
the program! I was surrounded by members of academia who spoke a language with 
which I was unfamiliar. Much like the TCs in their cultural field experience, I was out of 
my comfort zone. I felt out of place and uncomfortable. It was as if I was waiting for 
someone to provide me with a manual for how to be a doctoral student, but that manual 
never came. 

Starting the program was a time of transition for me. I admit that part of my 
thinking was dualistic in nature. While I acknowledged that knowledge was uncertain and 
relative to context, I also viewed the professors as sources of authority. I expected them 
to tell me what they expected of me. I craved for them to tell me how I should learn and 
be a doc student. As an example, I was the student who wanted to know how many pages 
I should write and what elements I should include in a given paper. I did not possess the 
ability at that time to see myself as a source of authority. I did not acknowledge that I had 
something to offer and was an active, contributing member of knowledge construction in 
that particular context. 

Over the years I started to become aware that I, too, had something to offer based 
on my own diverse experiences and unique way of making sense of those experiences. 
Also, I started to realize that not only was I able to understand the language of those 
around me, but I was beginning to speak it. I was slowly becoming a contributing 
member of this community of practice. 



280 



It was not until somewhere around my dissertation proposal hearing that I really 
began to see myself as my own source of authority. I shifted my thinking at that point. I 
started to see my professors more as colleagues than assessors and evaluators of my 
knowledge and work. That was an exciting feeling ! 

I am now finishing my dissertation and in a few short months will be able to 
officially join the members of academia. This chapter of my life will run over into a new 
chapter. Throughout the rest of my life I know I will continue to develop, learn and grow. 
And because of this experience, I will be more aware of how I am doing it. 



281 



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APPENDIX A. BACKGROUND QUESTIONNAIRE 



Name (Last, First): 



TED 5800, Fall 2011 

Phone #: 



Preferred E-mail address: 



Current degree program/major: TELP / ALP; Elementary/Secondary; 

Content area: 

Where you are in the program (1 st year, final year?): 

Previous degrees/education attained: 

Why do you want to teach?: 

Gender: Male / Female Native language/background: 



Age: 20-25 / 26-30 / 31-35 / 36-40 / 41-45 / 46-50 / 51 or older 

If you're currently teaching, where and what do you teach? (school/subject/grade level): 

Other daily responsibilities (work, family, volunteering, other courses, etc.): 

Briefly describe where you grew up (city/suburb?, culturally diverse/ predominantly 
white?, etc.) 

Teaching experience (grade level, number of years, place, responsibilities): 

How would you characterize your teaching experience? 

Novice Veteran 

12 3 4 5 

If your career background is something other than teaching, please describe: 

2. What languages do you know other than English? 

What is your level of confidence/proficiency in them? 



Language: 


Language: 


Low 






High 


Low 






High 


1 2 


3 


4 


5 


1 2 


3 


4 


5 



287 



Describe your experience(s) with other languages (learned from family members, took a 
foreign language in school, can understand your Grandmother, but can't speak her 
language, etc.): 

3. How would you rate your experiences with/knowledge of other cultures? 

Low High 

12 3 4 5 

Describe your experiences (Family background? Lived abroad? Traveled abroad? 
Where? When? For how long? What cultures?): 

4. How would you rate your level of confidence/ability in teaching culturally and/or 
linguistically diverse learners? 

Low High 

12 3 4 5 

Describe your experience(s) in working with diverse learners: 

5. How would you rate your interest in having ELLs in your classroom? 
Not at all interested Very interested 
12 3 4 5 

6. How would you rate previous coursework you have taken in preparing you to 
teach/work with English language learners? 

No preparation Highly prepared 

12 3 4 5 

List prior coursework you have taken related to diversity and/or working with English 
language learners (ELLs): 

List any other type of formal training you have received with regard to working with 
ELLs (in-service, conference, workshop, etc.): 

7. 1 am taking this course because: 

8. 1 am taking this course ONLINE because: 



288 



Rate your confidence/comfort level with online learning 

Not confident/comfortable Very confident/comfortable 

12 3 4 5 

Comments: 

8. Anything else you would like me to know about you. . . 



289 



APPENDIX B. LANGUAGE ATTITUDES OF TEACHER SURVEY 

Language Attitudes of Teachers Scale (Byrnes, et al., 1997) 
Instructions: Please indicate your level of agreement with the following statements. 
1 = strongly disagree 2 = disagree 3 = uncertain 4 = agree 5 = strongly agree 

1 . To be considered American, one should speak English. 12 3 4 5 

2. I would support the government supporting additional money to fund better programs for 
linguistic-minority students in public schools. 12 3 4 5 

3. Parents of non- or limited-English-proficient should be counseled to speak English with 
their children whenever possible. 12 3 4 5 

4. It is important that people in the US learn a language in addition to English. 

12 3 4 5 

5. It is unreasonable to expect a regular classroom teacher to teach a child who does not 
speak English. 12 3 4 5 

6. The rapid learning of English should be a priority for non-limited-proficient or limited- 
English-proficient even if it means losing the ability to speak their native language. 

12 3 4 5 

7. Local and state governments should require that all government business (including 
voting) be conducted only in English. 12 3 4 5 

8. Having a non- or limited-English-proficient student in the class in detrimental to the 
learning of the other students. 12 3 4 5 

9. Regular classroom teachers should be required to receive pre-service or in-service 
training to be prepared to meet the needs of linguistic minorities. 12 3 4 5 

10. Most non- and limited -English-proficient children are not motivated to learn English. 

12 3 4 5 

1 1 . At school, the learning of the English language by non- or limited-English-proficient 
children should take precedence over learning subject matter. 12 3 4 5 

12. English should be the official language of the United States. 12 3 4 5 

13. Non- and limited-English-proficient students often use unjustified claims of 
discrimination as an excuse for not doing well in school. 12 3 4 5 

290 



APPENDIX C. KNOWLEDGE OF ELL ISSUES SURVEY 
KNOWLEDGE OF ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNER (ELL) ISSUES SURVEY 

(adapted from Teague, 2010) 

Instructions: On a scale from 1 to 5, please indicate your self-assessed current 
knowledge of the following topics. Please circle only one number for each item. 

1 = No knowledge 

2 = Very little knowledge 

3 = Some knowledge 

4 = Quite a bit of knowledge 

5 = Extensive knowledge 

1. The local ELL population (who are our ELLs?) 
12 3 4 5 

2. Local resources/organizations that serve ELLs/families 
12 3 4 5 

3. Legal requirements for educating ELLs (i.e. legislative and judicial milestones) 
12 3 4 5 

4. History of bilingual education in the U.S. 
12 3 4 5 

5. Bilingual program models 
12 3 4 5 

6. Issues surrounding the debate on bilingual education 
12 3 4 5 

7. How first languages are learned/acquired 

12 3 4 5 

291 



8. How second languages are learned/acquired 
12 3 4 5 

9. Sheltered content instruction and how to implement it 
12 3 4 5 

10. Effective instructional strategies for ELLs 
12 3 4 5 



292 



APPENDIX D. MID-SEMESTER ACTIVITY IMPACT QUESTIONNAIRE 
ESL for Educators (TED 5800) Activity Impact Questionnaire 

We are just over half-way through the course. Please rate the course activities you have 
participated in so far. Circle the number that best matches your feelings about how 
helpful each activity is to you with respect to the following categories. Use the below 
scale to help you answer the questions. 



- n/a or did not participate in activity 1 

Not helpful at all 



extremely helpful 



Activity 


Interesting/ 
Engaging 


Helpful in 
preparing 
me to work 
with ELLs 


Helpful in 
understanding 
myself better 


Helpful in 
understanding 
others better 


Challengin 
gme to 
think 

differently 
about ELLs 


Comments 


Journals 


12345 


012345 


012345 


012345 


012345 




ELL Guidebook 


12345 


012345 


012345 


012345 


012345 




FALELL 
Directors Panel 
Video 


012345 


012345 


012345 


012345 


012345 




SIOP links/video 


12345 


012345 


012345 


12 3 4 5 


012345 




FA2: 

Cultural/Language 
field assignment 


012345 


012345 


012345 


012345 


012345 




Developmental 
sequence writing 
samples 


012345 


012345 


012345 


012345 


012345 




Book: How 
Languages are 
Learned (so far) 


012345 


012345 


012345 


012345 


012345 




Book: Sheltered 
Content Instruction 
(so far) 


012345 


012345 


012345 


012345 


012345 




Ovando Article 
(Bilingual 
Education in the 

US) 


012345 


012345 


012345 


012345 


012345 




What Teachers 
Need to Know 
About Language 
article (Wong, 
Fillmore & Snow) 


012345 


012345 


012345 


012345 


012345 




Online Discussions 
(in general) 


012345 


012345 


012345 


012345 


012345 





Additional comments: 



293 



Below is a list of the weekly threaded discussion topics. Please indicate whether you would keep them, 
change them, or get rid of them. Any comments you can provide to help me understand the reason behind 
your answer would be extremely helpful! 



Week / Discussion topic 


Keep/ Change/ 
Get rid of it 


Comments 


Week 2: Historical and legal 
influence (discussing important 
court cases) 






Week 3: Program options 
(imagining you are a parent of an 
ELL...) 






Week 4: First language 
development (stages of language 
development. . .looking at writing 
samples and discussing) 






Week 5: Second language 
acquisition (examples of theories 
from readings and experience 
about language acquisition) 






Week 6: Sheltered instruction 
(provide examples and discuss 
how you would adjust instruction 
for ELLs) 






Week 7: Factors influencing 
language (discussion of power 
imbalance) 







Additional comments: 



294 



APPENDIX E. END-OF-SEMESTER QUESTIONNAIRE 

Post-course Surveys (TED 5800 Online, Fall 2011) 

Instructions: Please fill out the following surveys as completely and honestly as possible. 
Return to Stephanie Dewing ( sdewing2@uccs.edu ) at your earliest convenience, but 
please no later than Monday, December 19 . Thank you! 

Name: 



1 . How would you rate your level of confidence/ability in teaching culturally and/or 
linguistically diverse learners upon completion of the ESL for Educators course? 

Low High 

12 3 4 5 

If you feel that your level of confidence/ability in teaching ELLs has changed, please 
describe as specifically as you can about what contributed to that change: 



2. How would you rate your interest in having English language learners (ELLs) in your 
classroom? 

Not at all interested Very interested 

12 3 4 5 

If you feel your level of interest in having ELLs in your classroom has changed due to 
your participation in the course, please explain as specifically as possible what 
contributed to that change: 



3. How would you rate this course in its ability to prepare you to teach/work with English 
language learners? 

Did not prepare me at all Prepared me very well 

12 3 4 5 

Please explain: 

4. Rate your confidence/comfort level with online learning 

Not confident/comfortable Very confident/comfortable 

12 3 4 5 

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If you feel your confidence/comfort level with online learning has changed as a result of 
your participation in this course, please explain: 



5. If I were to take this course again, I would take it: 

online 

on campus 



Please explain the reason(s) for your choice: 



6. Anything else you would like me to know about your course experience. . . 



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APPENDIX F. END-SEMESTER ACTIVITY IMPACT QUESTIONNAIRE 

ESL for Educators (TED 5800) End-of-semester Activity Impact Questionnaire (2 pages) 

Congratulations! You have just completed ESL for Educators. Please rate the course activities 
you have participated in from the middle of the semester to the end. Circle the number that best 
matches your feelings about how helpful each activity is to you with respect to the following 
categories. Use the below scale to help you answer the questions. 

5 



Not helpful at all 



extremely helpful 



Activity 


Interesting/ 
Engaging 


Helpful in 
preparing 
me to work 
with ELLs 


Helpful in 
understanding 
myself better 


Helpful in 
understanding 
others better 


Challenging 
me to think 
differently 
about ELLs 


Comments 


Journals 


012345 


012345 


12345 


012345 


012345 




Field Assignment 
3: ESL classroom 
observation/ 
interview 


012345 


012345 


12345 


012345 


012345 




Link to Pike's Peak 
Literacy Project 


012345 


012345 


12345 


012345 


012345 




Link to TPR/TPRS 


012345 


012345 


12345 


012345 


012345 




Link to Colorin 
Colorado (informal 
assessment) 


012345 


012345 


12345 


012345 


012345 




Exam 


012345 


012345 


12345 


012345 


012345 




Self-assessment/ 
Final Reflection 
paper 


012345 


012345 


12345 


012345 


012345 




Research Paper 


012345 


012345 


12345 


012345 


012345 




Book: How 

Languages are 
Learned 


012345 


012345 


012345 


012345 


012345 




Book: Sheltered 
Content Instruction 


012345 


012345 


12345 


012345 


012345 




Online Discussions 
(in general) 


012345 


012345 


12345 


012345 


012345 




Instructor 
participation/ 
feedback/ input 


012345 


012345 


12345 


012345 


012345 





Additional comments: 



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Below is a list of the weekly threaded discussion topics from week 8 until the end of the course. Please 
indicate whether you would keep them, change them, or get rid of them. Any comments you can provide to 
help me understand the reason behind your answer would be extremely helpful! 



Week / Discussion topic 


Keep/ Change/ Get rid 
of it 


Comments 


Week 8: Learner language 
(developmental writing sequences) 






Week 9: Strategies and adaptations 
for teaching ELLs 






Week 10: Linking theory to practice 






Week 11: Approaches to ELL 
instruction 






Week 12: Literacy for ELLs 






Week 13: TPR & TPRS 






Week 14: Assessment 
considerations 






Week 15: Discussion of research 
findings from your papers 






Week 16: Revisiting of ideas from 

surveys 







Additional comments: 



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APPENDIX G. SUBJECT-OBJECT INTERVIEW PROTOCOL 

Online ESL for Educators Course Study 
Interview Protocol 
Adapted from Brancard (2008) 
Prepare before the interview: 

• For face-to-face interviews, 10 index cards, each with one of the following 
prompts written on it: anger, anxious/nervous, success, standing up for your 
beliefs, sad, confused, moved/touched, surprised/shocked, change, important to 
me 

• For phone interviews, a document with a 2x5 table, each cell with one of the 
prompts written in the top-left corner (same prompts as above) 

• Digital recorder 

• Pen for interviewee 

• Pen and notepad for myself 

Explanation of interview to participant: 

"This interview will take between an hour and an hour and a half. The goal of the 
interview is to learn how you think about your learning experiences over the past 
semester in the online ESL for Educators course. I want to understand how you 
understand your own experiences. You have control of what you want to talk about. You 
don't need to talk about anything you don't want to talk about. Your participation is 
strictly voluntary and you may stop at any time." 

Reflection time with cards/prompts 

• For face-to face interviews, 

o Give students the 10 cards described above. Say, "These cards are for you 
to look at and write on. You can take them with you and keep them or 
throw them away after the interview. The purpose of the cards is to give 
you a chance to think about and jot down ideas about what you might want 
to talk about in the interview. Look at the cards and think of times when 
you have felt these emotions related to your experiences in the previous 
semester in the online ESL for Educators course. I'd like you to spend 
about 15-20 minutes looking at the cards and writing notes to yourself 
about experiences you might want to talk about. You don't need to write 
on all the cards, just the ones that make you think of an idea or an 
experience you'd like to talk about. We won't have time to talk about all 

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the cards. You'll decide which ones you want to talk about." (The 
interviewer takes time to introduce each card. Two examples follow.) "For 
example, if you want to think about the success card, think back to a time 
over the last semester when you felt success and make some notes on the 
card about that experience of success. As another example, with the 
change card, think back on your past experiences over the last several 
months. Are there ways you've changed that come to mind? Make some 
notes on the card about that experience." 
o Allow 15-20 minutes for participants to make notes on the cards. 
• For phone interviews, 

o Send the word document to the participants the night before or the day of 
the phone interview via email. In the document is a 2x5 table, each cell 
containing one of the prompts. Include the following written instructions 
to the participant. 

■ I'm attaching a paper that I'd like you to print out if you can. On it 
are 10 prompts. The purpose of these prompts is to give you a 
chance to think about and jot down ideas about what you might 
want to talk about in the interview. Look at the prompts and think 
of times when you have felt these emotions related to your 
experiences in the ESL for Educators course this past semester. 
Write notes to yourself about the experiences you might want to 
talk about. You don't need to write on all the prompts, just on the 
ones that make you think of an idea or an experience you'd like to 
talk about. We won't have time to talk about all the cards. You'll 
decide which ones you want to talk about. For example, if you 
want to think about the success prompt, think back to a time in this 
past semester in the ESL for Educators course that you felt success 
and make some notes on the card about that experience of success. 
As another example, with the change prompt, think about how 
you've changed over the last several months. Are there ways 
you've changed that come to mind? Make some notes on the card. 
These are just examples. You are in complete control of which 
prompts you want to talk about. 
Initiating the interview: 

"Are you ready to start? In the next hour or so we can talk about some of the experiences 
you've made notes about. Are there a couple of cards you feel more strongly about or that 
you'd like to talk about more than the others? Look through the cards and choose one that 
you would like to talk about. You've chosen the card. Tell me about a time when 



300 



you felt in a situation related to your experiences over the past semester in the 

online ESL for Educators course." 

During the interview: 

Try balancing two roles - that of active, sympathetic listener and that of active inquirer. 
The interview manual describes ways of indicating active listening and ways of 
questioning that elicit clearer articulation of ideas from the participants. As an active 
listener, let the interviewee know that you understand and empathize. 

Examples of ways of indicating sympathetic listening: 

• Rephrase what you've heard: "So when the instructor responded that way to your 
discussion post, you were upset." "So you could feel really proud after you did 
that." 

• Express empathy: "That's too bad." "What a wonderful experience!" 



As an inquirer, use question intended to lead the interviewee to articulate the extent to 
which he/she is able to examine and reflect on his/her experience and the extent to which 
he/she sees himself/herself in control of and responsible for his/her decisions as students 
or learners. 

Examples of ways of leading the participant to a clearer articulation: 

• Ask why: "I'd like to understand how you felt about that experience a little better. 
Can you tell me why. . .?" 

• Ask what might have changed the way the interviewee felt in that situation. 

• Find out extremes: "What was it about that experience that made you most 
proud?" 

• Ask how the participant knows something: "How did you know that the instructor 
didn't care about the students?" 

• Ask what would be an important outcome for the student: "What is most 
important to you about working with kids?" 

• When you and the participant have exhausted the ideas on one card, ask the 
student choose a second card to talk about. 



Ending the interview: 

The interview ends when the time is up, talk about a card has been exhausted, or the 
student does not want to talk anymore. Explain that you will transcribe the interview and 
then study the transcript along with transcripts from other participants' interviews to 

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understand better the perspectives of the adult learners in the course. Thank the 
participant for his/her time. 

References 

Brancard, R. (2008). Negotiating Identities: Voices of Students in a Community College 

Developmental Education Program. Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Colorado 

Denver, Denver. 
Lahey, L., Souvaine, E., Kegan, R., Goodman, R., & Felix, S. (1988). A guide to the 

subject-object interview: Its administration and interpretation. Unpublished 

manuscript. 



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APPENDIX H. PARTICIPANT CONSENT FORM 
Study Title: Online ESL for Educators Course 
Principal Investigator: Stephanie Dewing 
COMIRBNo: 11-1185 
Version Date: October 19, 2011 
Version No: 2 



You are being asked to be in a research study. This form provides you with information 
about the study. A member of the research team will describe this study to you and 
answer all of your questions. Please read the information below and ask questions about 
anything you don't understand before deciding whether or not to take part. 

Why is this study being done? 

This study plans to learn more about how the adult learners enrolled in the online ESL for 
Educators course experience the course in different ways. You are being asked to be in 
this research study because you are an adult learner enrolled in the course and can help 
me learn more about which aspects of the course contribute to your learning and in what 
ways. Through your regular coursework and interviews, I hope to learn more about how 
this course contributes to both informational learning (increased knowledge and skills) 
and transformational learning (changes in the way one thinks or understands). Up to 10 
people will participate in this study. 

What happens if I join this study? 

If you join the study, you will be asked to fill out a background questionnaire at the 
beginning of the course and complete two short surveys at the beginning and at the end of 
the course. You will also be asked to participate in an interview after the completion of 
the course. The interview will last approximately one hour and will be digitally recorded 
and transcribed. In addition, I will contact you four times for mini-interviews at the 
beginning of the course and after each of the three major field assignments. These mini 
interviews should last approximately 15 minutes and will also be recorded and 
transcribed. Your name will not be used in the recordings or in the write-up of the 
research. Your participation in this study will last approximately five months (just 
beyond the course end date) and will require about 2 hours of your time outside of regular 
course activities. 



303 



What are the possible discomforts or risks? 

Discomforts you may experience while in this study include the possibility that 
discussing your learning or prior experiences may bring up uncomfortable feelings. Other 
possible risks include the very unlikely possibility that confidentiality about your 
participation is compromised. 

What are the possible benefits of the study? 

This study is designed for the researcher to learn more about how adult learners enrolled 
in the ESL for Educators course experience the course in different ways and which 
aspects of the course contribute most to your learning (both informational and 
transformational learning). What I learn from this study may inform teacher education 
programs about best practices for preparing future teachers to work with culturally and 
linguistically diverse learners. By improving linguistically diverse teacher education 
programs, the potential exists to make a positive impact on the culturally and 
linguistically diverse students themselves. In reflecting on how you learn, not only do 
you have the potential to contribute to improved teacher education programs and CLD 
students, but you may also find satisfaction in learning more about yourself through the 
process. 

Will I be paid for being in the study? Will I have to pay for anything? 

You will not be paid to be in the study. It will not cost you anything to be in the study. 

Is my participation voluntary? 

Taking part in this study is voluntary. You have the right to choose not to take part in 
this study. If you choose to take part, you have the right to stop at any time. If you 
refuse or decide to withdraw later, you will not lose any benefits or rights to which you 
are entitled. 

Who do I call if I have questions? 

The researcher carrying out this study is Stephanie Dewing. You may ask any questions 
you have now. If you have questions later, you may call Stephanie Dewing at 719-633- 

3472. 

You may have questions about your rights as someone in this study. You can call 
Stephanie Dewing with questions. You can also call the Multiple Institutional Review 
Board (IRB). You can call them at 303-724-1055. 

Who will see my research information? 

We will do everything we can to keep your records a secret. It cannot be guaranteed. 

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Both the records that identify you and the consent form signed by you may be looked at 
by others. 

• Federal agencies that monitor human subject research 

• Human Subject Research Committee 

• The group doing the study 

• The group paying for the study 

• Regulatory officials from the institution where the research is being conducted 
who want to make sure the research is safe 

The results from the research may be shared at a meeting. The results from the research 
may be in published articles. Your name will be kept private when information is 
presented. 

Audio recordings of interviews, interview transcriptions, and course documents will be 
kept in the researcher's home. Pseudonyms will be used on all recordings, transcribed 
interviews and documents and the list of code names will be kept separately in a locked 
cabinet in the researcher's home. Electronic files, which will also use pseudonyms, will 
be stored on the researcher's personal laptop, which is password protected. All materials 
will be kept for three years and then destroyed. 

You will be given the opportunity to receive any and all publications that involve your 
participation if you would like to see them. 

Agreement to be in this study 

I have read this paper about the study or it was read to me. I understand the possible risks 
and benefits of this study. I know that being in this study is voluntary. I choose to be in 
this study: I will get a copy of this consent form. 



Signature: Date:_ 

Print Name: 



Consent form explained by: Date: 

Print Name: 



Investigator: Date: 



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APPENDIX I. ESL FOR EDUCATORS COURSE SYLLABUS 

TED 5800: ESL for Educators 

*University and Instructor information were removed 

Required Textbooks: 

Echevarria, J., & 
Allyn & Bacon. 



Echevarria, J., & Graves, A. (2010). 4 th Ed. Sheltered Content Instruction. Boston, MA: 



Lightbown, P., & Spada, N. (2006). 3 Ed. How Languages are Learned. Oxford, UK: 
Oxford University Press. 

Course Format: This online course consists of readings, assignments, and online 
discussions. 



Course Overview: This is a theory, methods, and materials course that provides a 
comprehensive survey of ESL, bilingual and multicultural education programs and 
effective materials and teaching methods for language minority students. The course 
emphasizes individual and collaborative learning to develop knowledge and 
understanding of the various models, philosophies and theoretical underpinnings of 
bilingual/ESL education and instruction. Also included are an overview of the history of 
and legislation related to bilingual/ESL education and discussion of the culture of ESL 
classrooms, instructional strategies, appropriate materials and important considerations 
for teaching the LEP student. Students will have opportunities to explore theoretical 
concepts of socio-cultural perspectives of language interaction and literacy instruction 
and learning. They will also have opportunities to integrate technology into their 
individual and collaborative enterprises in the course. 

Course Goals: As a result of participating fully in the experiences of this course, 
students will: 

1. demonstrate foundational knowledge about student language and literacy development 
in reading, writing, speaking, viewing and listening. (Standards Addressed: LDE: 1, 2; 
CDE: 1, 4, 6; TESOL: 1, 2; INTASC: 1, 2) 

2. demonstrate working knowledge of instructional materials and strategies proven by 
research to be effective for the teaching of language and literacy. Standards Addressed: 
LDE: 3; CDE: 5, 6, 7; TESOL: 1, 3; INTASC: 4, 5, 6, 7; NETS: 1, 2, 3) 

3. demonstrate a basic knowledge of the role of assessment in the instruction of English 
Language Learners. Standards Addressed: (LDE 4; CDE: 3; TESOL: 4; INTASC: 3, 8; 
NETS: 4) 



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4. understand how to create a positive classroom environment in which students are 
motivated to engage in language and literacy activities. Standards Addressed: LDE: 3, 5; 
CDE: 5, 6; TESOL: 3; INTASC: 1, 2, 9, 10; NETS 5, 6) 

Course Objectives: Students will learn/be able to: 

1) describe various learning theories and how they shape classroom instruction and 
learning today (LDE: la, 2c, 3a; CDE: 4.1, 5.1, 6.1, 6.2, 6.4; TESOL: 1, 3 
INTASC: 1, 4, 7; NETS: li, 2iv, 3ii) 

2) describe various models of ESL instruction programs that integrate theory, practice, 
and assessment (LDE: la, 2c, 3a, 3b, 4a; CDE: 3.2, 5.1, 6.1, 6.2; TESOL: 1, 3, 4 
INTASC: 1, 4, 7, 8; NETS: 2i, 3i, 4i) 

3) identify the processes and theories that support current views about how children 
acquire language and literacy (LDE: la, 2a, 3a; CDE: 4.3, 5.1, 5.4, 6.2; TESOL: 1 
INTASC: 1,2) 

4) discuss the general stages of language and literacy development children 
experience, and effective strategies that would promote their language and literacy 
acquisition (LDE: la, 2c, 3b, 3e; CDE: 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 3.1, 5.1, 6.1, 6.2; TESOL: 
1, 3 INTASC: 1, 2, 3, 4, 7; NETS 3i) 

5) discuss how children's progressively intricate social and academic language 
development are related with their increased use of conventional English in 
multiple contexts in school (LDE: lc, 2c, 3a, 3b; CDE: 5.1, 6.1, 6.2; TESOL: 1 
INTASC: 2, 5; NETS: 3i, 3ii, 3iv) 

6) describe important theories for effective systems and strategies for the instruction 
and organization of classroom environments, methods, and materials that 
combined, will promote student learning and language acquisition (LDE: la, 2c, 3c; 
CDE: 3.1, 3.6, 5.1, 5.5; TESOL: 1, 3; INTASC: 4, 5, 9; NETS 2i, 3i, 5i, 5ii) 

7) describe the role of family as a factor for involvement in student literacy acquisition 
and development (LDE: lb, 5a, 5c, 5d; CDE: 5.8, 5.9; TESOL: 2; INTASC: 10) 

8) recognize and appreciate the importance of alternative methods and materials for 
English Language Learners (LDE: 2c, 3b; CDE: 3.1, 3.6, 5.3, 6.1, 6.2; TESOL: 3; 
INTASC: 2, 3, 4, 5; NETS: 3i, 6i, 6ii, 6iv) 

9) identify and discuss effective strategies for setting up and maintaining a positive 
and orderly classroom culture and environment that support all students' learning 
(LDE: 2c, 3c; CDE: 5.1, 5.2, 5.3, 6.1, 6.2; TESOL: 3; INTASC: 1, 2; NETS: 3i, 6i, 
6ii, 6iv) 

10) identify and demonstrate a variety of resources, including the Internet and e-mail, 
the community and the school, as critical factors that support and promote the 
engagement of students in their language and literacy development (LDE: 
3d, 5b, 5f; CDE: 5.6, 7.1; TESOL: 3; INTASC: 6, 10; NETS: 2i, 2ii, 2iii, 3i, 3ii, 
5iii) 

Reasonable accommodations will be made for students who have a documented disability 
that interferes with completion of this course. It is your responsibility to request any 
accommodation before assignments are due. Please contact the Disability Services 
Office the first week of classes located in Main Hall #105 or call 719-255-3354, or let me 
know if you have any questions or need assistance. 



307 



Course Requirements: 

1. Navigating the course website: 

It is very important for everyone to become familiar with how the course website 
operates and how the particular features function. The more you engage in the 
opportunities presented, the easier it will be for you to navigate this course. 

2. Preparation: 

Your preparation should include a careful, critical reading of assigned materials so that 
you each bring your questions and insights to the class discussions. Your membership in 
this class through your reading, your writing and your sharing is valued and essential. 
Completion of required readings and assignments, and participation in the online 
discussions and activities is expected, and is indicative of your professional attitude and 
behavior. There is no substitute for actual quality interaction with your peers. 

The process of interacting involves reflection to challenge your personal beliefs, and 
listening to the perspectives of others. Moreover, it requires that you ask questions to 
clarify your thinking, building from a positive attitude or mindset. It is very simple to 
build discussions on what is wrong with an approach, a method or a perspective to 
research processes; that is, be negative or take a negative approach. It is more difficult, 
and the mark of a true professional, to build a discussion based on constructive criticism 
of teaching and interacting with learners whose first language is other than English. 

This is a graduate level course. As a graduate student, you are expected to demonstrate 
thinking and work that is in concert with graduate school expectations. All of your 
assignments will carry an expectation of graduate level thinking, understanding, and 
scholarship. 

3. Course Materials and Assignments: 

This syllabus is your guide to the course, the contract with your instructor and your set of 
rules for the course. Master the contents of this syllabus during the first week and use it 
as a reference before you turn in any work. If you have any questions, please ask your 
instructor. These assignments are designed to assist you in preparing for active 
participation in the learning activities, to use writing as a tool for learning, and to develop 
skills that will be needed to communicate in writing with individuals in the school 
setting. The course assignments cannot be successfully completed without a thorough 
study of the assigned readings. If you follow the syllabus, you shouldn't become lost. 

SOME ADVICE: Keep up with the readings and the various assignments. If you fall 
behind, you most likely will find yourself overwhelmed and frustrated. If you are behind 
in your assignments for any reason, please discuss it with me before it becomes a chronic 
situation. Note that there are deadlines throughout the syllabus that indicate what you 
must have completed and by what date. 

4. Evaluation Process: 



308 



There will be a number of evaluations as a usual part of this course. Furthermore, your 
performance with the various assignments will indicate your level of understanding of the 
concepts and the methods, and of your degree of preparedness to effectively engage 
students in language and literacy acquisition processes. Your final reflection of your 
learning is an important component of this course. 

5. Academic Honesty 

As a member of the CU-Colorado Springs academic community, please adhere to the 
following guidelines: (a) reference all work; (b) do not use projects from previous 
courses; and (c) do not plagiarize. Please review the CU-Colorado Springs Course 
Bulletin ( http://www.uccs.edu ) for additional information regarding academic honesty. 

6. Technology Competencies 

It is expected that candidates begin our program with basic computing skills that include 
using Microsoft Word to write papers, accessing online research databases, and 
corresponding by email. Knowledge of the use of technology- supported multimedia, 
such as PowerPoint and other audio/video resources is a plus; those who do not already 
have a working knowledge of their use will develop it over the course of their program. 

Communications will be in our course or email. All students must obtain a UCCS email 
address and check it regularly (at least every day) so as not to miss announcements. An 
idea: if your UCCS address is not your primary one, have emails from it rerouted to the 
one you check daily. 

7. BLACKBOARD Competencies 

All faculty members in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction are required to use 
Blackboard to manage their courses. This includes the syllabus, course schedule, and 
assignment criteria (if not detailed in the syllabus). Students need to become familiar 
with document sharing, assignment upload, and the grade book. 

8. Online Participation and Discussion 

Like the instructor, students are expected to be thoroughly prepared for course activities, 
meaning all assigned reading has been completed and questions on the reading have been 
raised in our course; concepts, definitions, examples, and procedures presented in the text 
and previous classes are understood well enough to be discussed; individual or group 
assignments have been prepared; and the student is ready to engage in online course 
activities. 

Class participation is vital for acquiring the knowledge necessary to meet the course 
objectives. Additionally, students' presence and participation contribute to an 
interchange of ideas and experiences that benefit everyone. The instructor reserves the 
right to reduce a student's grade for consistent lack of participation. 

9. Ethical Conduct 

The responsibility for ethical conduct, academic honesty and integrity rests with each 
individual member of the UCCS community. The Student Codes and Academic Policies 
(which may be found at http://www.uccs.edu/~dos/studentconduct/index.html ) are 

309 



followed in this class. In general, academic dishonesty includes, but is not limited to, 
cheating on assignments or examinations, plagiarism (which means misrepresenting as 
your own any work done by another), misuse of academic materials, or interfering with 
another student's work. Violations of the honor code may result in dismissal from the 
program. 

10. Diversity Statement 

The faculty of the College of Education is committed to preparing students to recognize, 
appreciate, and support diversity in all forms - including ethnic, cultural, religious, 
gender, economic, physical, and intellectual - while striving to provide fair and equitable 
treatment and consideration for all. Any student who believes that he/she has not been 
treated fairly or equitably for any reason should bring it to the attention of the instructor. 

11. Special Assistance 

Reasonable accommodations will be made for students who have a documented 
disability, which interferes with completion of this course. It is your responsibility to 
request any accommodations before assignments are due. Please contact Disability 
Services (255-3354) or the instructor if you have questions. 

12. Military Students 

Military students who have the potential to participate in military activities including 
training and deployment should consult with faculty prior to registration for any course, 
but no later than the end of the first week of classes. At this time, the student should 
provide the instructor with a schedule of planned absences, preferably signed by the 
student's commander, in order to allow the instructor to evaluate and advise the student 
on the possible impact of the absences. 

In this course, the instructor will consider absences due to participation in verified 
military activities to be excused absences, on par with those due to other unavoidable 
circumstances such as illness. If, however, it appears that military obligations will 
prevent adequate attendance or performance in the course, the instructor may advise the 
student to register for the course at another time, when she/he is more likely to be 
successful. 

13. Appeals 

In any academic issue, including attendance decisions, students may exercise their right 
to appeal. Should the faculty member and student be unable to agree on appropriate 
accommodation under this policy, either party shall have the right to request mediation as 
outlined in the grievance policies of the College of Education and the UCCS Student 
Standards. 

14. Assignments, more specifically: 

It is important for teachers, who are responsible for teaching ELLs to read and write, to 
be able to write well themselves. You will be role models for your students, and they and 
their families will expect all communications from you to be accurate. You are expected 
to demonstrate a high level of proficiency in all oral and written work. Therefore, all of 

310 



your assignments should reflect the high standard of excellence in literacy expected of 
teachers and other educators. All written assignments must be typewritten/word 
processed. When turning in assignments, please include a cover page with the title, 
the course and section number, and your name. The general assignments are listed 
below. 

A. Introduction. An initial activity is to post a "Who I Am" PowerPoint in the 
course using a threaded discussion forum. The bios will help everyone to get 
acquainted as well as become accustomed to the functions and operations of 
the course learning management system (CLMS). I look forward to meeting 
all of you and working with you this semester. 

B. Weekly Discussion Forums - Your reading, thinking, and experiences with 
research are valued and essential. Regular contributions to the discussions are 
critical. In a course of this sort in a regular classroom, there is a great deal of 
discussion based on the readings and experiences of the class participants. In 
light of our online format, we will foster the same sort of discussion using the 
discussion forum each week. Please post your initial response by Thursday 
evenings and respond to at least 2 colleagues' posts by Sunday evenings. (5 
points each x 15 weeks) 

C. Field Assignments. There are three field assignments to be done outside of 
class that help you to link the ideas and the discussions in the class to the 
community, public schools, and classrooms. 

Field Assignment #1: Find out about how ELL children are served at a 
local school (Video recording provided.) 

Field Assignment #2: Attend an activity or event that is different from 
your own past cultural experiences (for example, participate in an ESL 
family night at a local school, attend a religious service of a faith that you 
are not familiar with (perhaps in a different language), take part in Cinco 
de Mayo celebration, etc.) 

Field Assignment #3: Observe a class or tutoring session with an ESL 
teacher or paraprofessional 

D. Exam. This will be an online exam that will cover material through the first 
12 weeks of the course. 

E. Final Paper. A scholarly paper will demonstrate your advanced knowledge 
and understanding of language and literacy acquisition theories, and of the 
methods and materials appropriate of effective pedagogy. There are many 
appropriate topic ideas. The most important thing to keep in mind is that the 
topic should be narrowed appropriately to reflect a clear thesis. Here are some 
possible topics: 

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The pros of bilingual education 

The pros of an inclusion program 

TPR(S) 

The overrepresentation of ELL' s in special education 

The differences in teaching reading to ELL's 

Effective methods of teaching ELL's in the science (or social studies or 

any other area) 

Legislation affecting instruction for ELL's 

Teaching from a multicultural perspective 

Dialects of English 

How Native American students can succeed in school 

Parent/family involvement 

F. Self evaluation/ reflection. A self assessment and evaluation of your learning 
in this course that starts with your understandings of ELLs and ESL processes 
the first day and culminates in taking stock of your growth by the end of the 
semester. For this class, in Week 1, you will write your initial ideas about 
language learners and language learning. Midway through the course, you 
will complete a journal entry about your learning. At the end of the course, 
you again will write about what you have learned. These journals will 
culminate in a short paper reflecting on your experience in the class. See 
specific guidelines posted. 

Graduate Credit: For graduate credit, you are expected to demonstrate thinking and 
work that is in concert with graduate school expectations. All of your assignments will 
carry a graduate level of expectation for scholarship. 

Grades: Grades will be based on your projects, on your timely completion of the written 
assignments, and on your participation in the discussions and the activities. The 
mechanics of writing including spelling, punctuation, and grammar WILL affect your 
grade. Before you submit anything as a final draft, be sure that it is a final copy. That is, 
be sure to proofread, spell check, edit, check for logic and readability, grammar, etc. The 
Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association must be used to guide 
your mechanics. (It is sold in the bookstore, and is available in the library.) Reading your 
work out loud before you do your final draft is a good way to edit it. You may also make 
appointments at the Writing Center for help. Concise prose, clarity of ideas and creative 
synthesis of the concepts will be expected. All work must be typed, double-spaced and 
on time. Late assignments will be penalized 10% for each day past due. No papers will 
be accepted after scored papers are returned in class. Each assignment will be awarded 
points based on criteria that fit the nature of the task. Grade points for this course are 
weighted as follows: 

Grading Assignments and Points: 

Introduction (Who I Am PowerPoint) 25 

Discussions (5 pts. X 15 weeks) 75 

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Three Field-Based Assignments (3 X 50 pts each) 

Exam 

Final Paper 

Self Evaluation/Reflection Journals and Paper 



150 
150 
150 
50 



TOTAL 
Grades will be computed as follows: 



600 points 



A = 94% to 100% 
A- =90% to 93% 
B+ = 87% to 89% 
B = 84% to 86% 
B- =80% to 83% 



Please note that students who earn a grade of C or less must 
repeat the course. 



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T Ed 5800 Online Class Schedule 



Please Note: This schedule is subject to change with sufficient notice. 



Week 


Topics 


Required Readings/ 
Viewings 


Assignments 
& Activities 


Assessments 


Date 










1 


Introductions 


1) ESL acronyms explained 


Introductions: Who I 
Am PowerPoint & 


Post Introductions in 
Discussion Area 


8/22 


Who are our 


2) Legal requirements 


Background 






ELLs? 


3) CDE PowerPoint "State of 


Questionnaire 


Journal entry 




Legal 


the State" 


Initial Journal 






considerations 










for serving ELLs 




Surveys 




2 


Historical 


1) Sheltered Content 


Participate in 


Participate in 




Background 


Instruction (SCI) Ch. 1,2 


discussion 


discussion 


8/29 


Sociological and 

Cultural 

Considerations 


2) Ovando, C. (2003). 
"Bilingual Education in the 

US" 

3) Colorado Department of 
Education's Language 
Culture and Equity Unit: ELL 
Guidebook, section 1.3 (pp. 
19-22). Links found in 
weekly units. 






3 


ELD Programs 


l)Colorado Department of 


Participate in 


Participate in 






Education's Language 


discussion 


discussion 


9/5 




Culture and Equity Unit: ELL 










Guidebook, (Appendix H). 


Carry out Field 


Field Assignment 






Links found in weekly course 


Assignment #1 


#1 due 






readings. 






4 


Language 


HLL Ch. 1 


Participate in 


Participate in 




Development 




discussion 


discussion 


9/12 










5 


Second 


1) HLL Ch. 2 


Participate in 


Participate in 




Language 




discussion 


discussion 


9/19 


Acquisition 


2) Wong Fillmore & Snow 
(2000). "What Teachers Need 
to Know about 







314 







Language." Link found in 










weekly units. 










3) Colorado Department of 










Education's Language 










Culture and Equity Unit: ELL 










Guidebook, section 1.2 (pp. 










14-18. Links found in weekly 










units. 






6 


Introduction to 


1) SCI Ch. 3 


View YouTube video 


Participate in 




Sheltered 


2) Link to SIOP website 




discussion 


9/26 


Content 


3) Short YouTube video on 


Participate in 






Instruction 


SIOP 


discussion 




7 


Factors 


1) SCI Ch. 4 


Participate in 


Participate in 




Influencing 




discussion of Field 


discussion 


10/3 


Second 
Language 


2) HLL Ch. 3 


Assignment 2 


Field Assignment 2 




Development 




Carry out Field 

Assignment #2 


due 


8 


Learner 


1) HLL Ch. 4 


Participate in 


Participate in 




Language 




discussion of 


discussion 


10/10 




2) Read through Language 
Samples for Discussion 


Language Samples 

Mid-semester 
Journal 


Journal entry 


9 


Learning 


1) SCI Ch. 5, 6, 7 


Participate in 


Participate in 




Strategies and 


2) Second Language 


discussion 


discussion 


10/17 


Curricular 
Adaptations 


Acquisition Stages and 
Strategies 






10 


Linking Theory 


Review SCI Ch. 2 


Participate in 


Participate in 




to Classroom 




discussion 


discussion 


10/24 


Observations 


HLL Ch. 5 


Carry out Field 

Assignment #3 


Field Assignment 
#3 due 


11 


Approaches to 


HLL Ch. 6 


Participate in 


Participate in 




ELL Instruction 




discussion 


discussion 


10/31 










12 


Literacy 


Read link to Pikes Peak 


Participate in 


Participate in 




Acquisition for 


Literacy Strategies Project 


discussion 


discussion 


11/7 


ELLs 




Take Exam 


Exam 


13 


Literacy 


Click and read links for: 


Participate in 


Participate in 




Acquisition for 




discussion 


discussion 


11/14 


ELLs: Focus on 
TPRS 


1) TPR 







315 







2) TPRS 






11/21- 


Thanksgiving 


No class! 






11/25 










14 


Assessment 
considerations 


SCI Ch. 8 


Participate in 
discussion 


Participate in 
discussion 


11/28 


for ELLs 


Link to Colorin Colorado 










website on assessment for 
ELLs 


Final Journal entry 


Journal entry due 


15 


Research 
findings 


No readings. 


Participate in 
discussion 


Participate in 
discussion 


12/5 






Post Final Paper 


Final Paper due 


16 


Course 
conclusion / 


No readings 


Participate in 
discussion 


Participate in 
discussion 


12/12 












Final reflections 




Post Final Reflection 
Surveys revisited 


Self-Assessment/ 
Reflection due 



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APPENDIX J. GUIDELINES FOR COURSE FIELD ASSIGNMENTS 

TED 5800 Field Assignment Guidelines 

Field Assignment #1 - Guidelines 

Field Assignment #1 has three main purposes: 

1. to increase your awareness of pedagogical considerations in educating ELLs 

2. to increase awareness about how ELLs are being served in your community 

3. to anchor theoretical considerations to student learning. 

Steps to complete Field Assignment #1: 

1. Download the ESL Directors Panel Discussion from Week 2 on Blackboard. 

Expect this to take at least 30 mins to download and a few hours to complete the viewing 
and write-up. 

2. Take notes during your viewing. Also, you may wish to create additional 
questions that either I can answer, or I can submit the questions to the directors. 

3. Type and post a narrative (1-2 pages) describing your reaction to the panel 
discussion. As in all your written work, this assignment must be typed and carefully 
edited for grammar, punctuation, and mechanics. After listening to the panel discussion 
on how our local school districts assess and attend to the needs of our ELLs, please do the 
following: 

• Provide a brief summary of at least two or three main points that you took away 
from the discussion and discuss how this information will impact you as an 
educator. 

• Give your personal reaction to the discussion. What did you find surprising? 
What information was most useful to you? 

• Considering the readings, what we are learning in class, your personal 
experiences, and the panel discussion, do you have comments, questions or 
concerns related to the panel discussion and/or how ELLs are served in Colorado 
or elsewhere? 

Field Assignment #2 - Guidelines 

Field Assignment #2 has three main purposes: 

1 . to facilitate positive awareness of cultural and/or linguistic diversity 

2. to increase community interaction and community building through experiencing, 
exploring and supporting cultural and linguistic diversity 

3. to increase awareness of issues faced by linguistic and/or cultural minorities 

Field Assignment #2 - Description: 

Attend an activity or event that is different from your own past cultural experiences and 
conducted in a language with which you are not familiar. For example, attend a religious 
service in a different language (several Jewish Temples, a Russian Orthodox Church, and 

317 



an Islamic Mosque are near the downtown area), a neighbor's quinceanera celebration, 
etc. Or you may participate in at least one complete lesson learning a new language 
(preferably one which is written in a non-roman alphabet). The course must be taught in 
a language with which you are not familiar. (If you took 4 years of high school Spanish, 
please do NOT attend a Spanish lesson). This experience most closely relates to the 
experiences of ELLs. 

Considerations for completing Field Assignment #2: 

1. Select an event or language program 

Select something completely new and different. It may push you outside of your comfort 
zone, but for the purpose of this assignment, that is what we want! This is an opportunity 
to experience on a very small scale what your ELLs experience on a daily basis. 

2. Contact an institution ahead of time 

Many places might have schedules, dress requirements, fees, activities, etc. which you 
might consider in making your choice of what you would like to attend. Calling ahead to 
answer questions, clarify logistics and make contact can ease the process for you, 
especially if you are considering language learning. Attending a celebratory event has a 
good number of components that transcend specific cultures and thus make attendance or 
participation a little more familiar. 

3. Think of what you will pay attention to for the "assignment" part of the 
experience. 

Focus on the relevancy of language, cultural components of communication, both 
linguistic and gestural, as well as competencies or understandings that seem necessary for 
successful participation. You might make a list of questions beforehand to help you keep 
in mind what you will write about later and what things to pay attention to and take notes 
on while you attend this event or lesson. 

To get you started, here are some questions you may choose to ask: 

-How did I come to choose this event or language lesson? 

-What are my gut reactions at different instances in this experience? 

-How easy or challenging was it for me to attend this event and to participate? 

-Is this a regular event or a special occasion? 

-Are other language learners beginning at the same level as I am? 

-Are others affiliated with this language or institution or culture in a more familiar or 

habitual way? 

-What are the expectations I place on myself to attend or participate? 

-What are the expectations of me from the other people present? 

-What confused me? 

-What frightened me? 

- What did I enjoy? 

-What made me have to think about something I normally take for granted? 

-How incorporated into "group" did you find yourself? 

-Did this "incorporation " occur due to your efforts or other 's? 

318 



-What made you curious? 

-What seemed impossible to ever understand? 

-What elements transcended language or culture? 

4. Be cordial with those you interact with 

As much as possible during this assignment, suspend judgment while in contact with 
those who speak this language or live within this culture. You are attending as an 
observer and a learner. You may experience many negative or positive emotions, and I 
recommend just keeping track of these and process them as you write up your analysis of 
this experience. 

5. Submit your assignment according to the guidelines provided 

Take detailed notes during your interactions and observations. You may also ask 
permission to record the event, lesson or conversation. Then, submit a 3-4 page analysis 
of your impressions, feelings, questions, concerns, challenges, successes and learning. 
Refer to the following rubric to calibrate yourself to the grading and assigned points. As 
in all your written work, this assignment must be typed, double-spaced, and carefully 
edited for rhetorical structures appropriate to your paper's argumentation, depth and 
support of ideas, personal voice and variety of word choice, and mechanics. Please 
include a cover page with the title of the assignment, the course and section number, the 
date, and your name. Reference correctly any works you cite according to APA 
formatting conventions. 

Field Assignment #3 - Guidelines 

Field Assignment #3 has three main purposes: 

1. to increase your awareness of pedagogical considerations in educating ELLs 

2. to increase awareness about how ELLs are being served in your community 

3. to anchor theoretical considerations to actual student learning. 

Steps to complete Field Assignment #3: 

1. Select the school or educational program 

Select the school or program in which you are currently working, or in which you plan to 
work. Decide on which school and classroom to observe. This may require a bit of 
informal research on your part, and might be in the same school or district in which you 
completed Field Assignment #1. Contact me if you are having trouble finding a class to 
observe. 

2. Contact the ESL coordinator or classroom teacher 

There may be one ELL classroom at a school, or there may be a variety of classes offered 
to ELLs at a particular school. Set up a convenient time for you to watch one or several 
classes where ELLs are served. It may prove interesting to watch an ELL only class, and 
to watch an immersion class with ELLs. Keep a record of what is offered at a school and 
what you chose to observe. 
** Whenever possible, try to observe a teacher with at least 3 years of experience. 



319 



3. Set up a time to meet with the ESL professional 

Most ESL professionals will welcome you to observe their class or program. Please 
remember they are busy professionals. Please be respectful and mindful of their 
schedules. Be sure to schedule a time to observe based on their schedule and meet them 
at their school or office. 

**Also, schedule a time before or after your observation to talk with the teacher. This is 
an opportunity to clarify any questions you may have about the class itself (i.e. class 
composition, pedagogical considerations, or teaching methodologies being used) or about 
the teacher. Be sure to limit the conversation to no more than a half an hour as teachers' 
time is extremely valuable. Include what you learned from this meeting in your write-up. 

4. Observing Classes with ELLs 

Remember, a primary goal of this assignment is to observe actual practices and 

challenges in the classroom when teaching ELLs. Create questions and conversation 

starters with this goal in mind. 

To get you started, here are some considerations for recording an observation: 

-Make a diagram of the desks, tables, boards, and screens relevant to the students and 

lesson delivery 

-Record or map out where students are seated and where the teacher is located 

throughout the lesson. 

-Record the students with codes for gender or other demographics you wish to consider, 

such as first language distribution patterns. 

-Make notes of what is presented on the walls. 

-Make notes of any lesson objectives identified for the students. 

-Record patterns of questioning with tally marks next to each student as they are invited 

to speak or as they request to speak. 

-List grouping structures used. 

-Keep a time record in the margin for when the teacher switches activity or pacing. 

-Keep a record of texts, graphics, maps, diagrams, media, etc. that aided in lesson 

delivery or in practice and application. 

-Feel free to use the SIOP protocol to guide you in things you might consider as you 

watch the lesson. 

-Keep track of the type of questioning according to Bloom 's taxonomy. 

-Keep an open mind to what you see. You are there to record. 



5. Follow up with a thank you letter or email 

This is self-explanatory, but please make sure it happens. Remember: you're working 
establish good working relationships. 



inis is sett-explanatory, but please m 
establish good working relationships. 



to 



6. Submit your assignment according to the guidelines provided 

Take notes during your observation and any conversations related to the observation. 
You may also ask permission to record the class. Write a substantial narrative (3-4 
pages) according to the following guidelines. As in all your written work, this 
assignment must be typed, double-spaced, and carefully edited for grammar, punctuation, 

320 



and mechanics. Please include a cover page with the title of the assignment, the course 
and section number, the date, and your name. 



321